Date of Submission

Spring 2016

Academic Programs and Concentrations


Project Advisor 1

Arseny Khakhalin

Abstract/Artist's Statement

Senior Project submitted to The Division of Science, Mathematics and Computing of Bard College

Neuroplasticity is a mechanism of morphological and electrophysiological adaptation that neurons undergo to encode new information. These adaptations enable exibility in learning and memory, which allows the entire nervous system to modify an organism’s behavior in response to changes in the environment. Neuroplasticity can take the form of synaptic plasticity, which changes how cells receive and relay information to each other, or intrinsic plasticity, which tunes a cell’s intrinsic electrophysiological properties, thereby altering intrinsic responsiveness, or the degree to which a cell is responsive to input from other cells. In my study, I have investigated how long term sensory stimulation provokes temporal intrinsic plasticity in neurons in the Xenopus tadpole optic tectum. In particular, I examined how temporal intrinsic plasticity tunes neural responsiveness to distinct, temporal differences in stimulation pro le. I used a dynamic clamp electrophysiology method to inject dynamic current conductances into each cell, which act like a virtual reality. Conductance shape models temporal stimulation pro les from other cells, simulating the ow of charged ions through proteinaceous ion channels. I found that intrinsic plasticity largely reduced responsiveness to those conductances that replicated the stimulation pro le of the sensory conditioning I administered prior to recording. These results re ect a homeostatic effect of temporal intrinsic tuning to maintain neural activity within a sustainable range, avoiding runaway excitation or quiescence. Each conditioning protocol had uniquely differing levels of spike reduction across conductance shapes, complicating the effects of sensory conditioning on precise temporal intrinsic tuning.

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