Uncovering the molecular networks in brain synapses that are the substrate of learning and memory
How memory is stored in the brain is the central focus of our research. We see this problem at both the system level, to describe the neural networks that represent the memory, and at the cellular/molecular level, to describe the particular plasticity-determinant proteins on both sides of the synapse that lead to the long-term storage of information. We have taken a dramatic step forward with the articulation of a new theory of memory (see ref. 1) that focuses exclusively on the post-translational modification of proteins already present at the synapse as the molecular substrate for regulating synaptic weights, and a multi-layered positive feedback system to sustain these rapid changes in protein structure. Current studies in our laboratory are testing the implications of this new theory using a multi-level interdisciplinary approach.