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Dendritic Spines: from Biophysics to Neuropathology

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The rules that govern dendritic spine formation, plasticity and elimination in relations to memory functions in the growing, mature and ailing brain is the focus of tremendous interest in recent years, using advanced arsenal of molecular tools and high resolution imaging methodologies. The striking ...

The rules that govern dendritic spine formation, plasticity and elimination in relations to memory functions in the growing, mature and ailing brain is the focus of tremendous interest in recent years, using advanced arsenal of molecular tools and high resolution imaging methodologies. The striking heterogeneity of spine morphologies on different types of neurons, as well as among adjacent spines in the same dendritic branch, and their minute size complicates the analysis of structure/function of dendritic spines. Major issues concerning the relationship between the morphology of dendritic spines and memory mechanisms and the functional, neuronal network relevance of such parameters remain unsettled; what are the immediate and lasting changes in electrical properties of dendritic spines and their parent neurons following exposure to plasticity-producing stimulation? Are there different structural correlates for different classes of memories (e.g. episodic, semantic, motor)? What happens to the structural change when a memory is removed? Can we improve memory by changing the structure? What happens when the brain undergoes a neurodegenerative process, such as occurring in Alzheimer's disease?

In this Research Topic, we will outline the main molecular properties of dendritic spines, as well as the changes observed brain structures in relations to different forms of learning and memory in the developing and degenerating brains.


Keywords: Dendritic spines, synaptic plasticity, neurological diseases, calcium, hippocampus


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