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Nuclear mechanisms of memory storage


The capacity to learn from experience and store information to guide future behavior is vital for the survival of all species. The cellular mechanisms that underlie the processes of learning and memory have been central questions in the field of neuroscience for decades and have been the focus of countless scientific studies. While significant advances have been made by virtue of this research, there are still many questions that remain unanswered. At present, the primary view of many in the field is that the physical memory trace is stored at synapses, and that altering the weight of synaptic connections in memory-forming neural circuits is what is necessary and sufficient to encode and store memory. However, recent work has demonstrated the importance of somatic plasticity, phenomena occurring in the nucleus of neurons, that also appear to be critically involved in the encoding and maintenance of memory at the cellular level. At present, the most intriguing questions regarding how memories are stored involve interrogation of the processes that bridge synaptic and nuclear plasticity. For my dissertation research, I will take advantage of the reductionist model organism Aplysia californica in order to understand the role of non-synaptic elements that contribute to memory.

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