A fundamental question in neuroscience is how neuronal circuits are refined by environmental cues. Circuit refinements involve maturation of selected synaptic connections and elimination (“pruning”) of others and are most prominent during critical periods—a stage of postnatal brain development when synapses have a high potential for undergoing plasticity. Critical periods are important medically because some types of experience-dependent wiring no longer occur after they end, or when the proteins and genes supporting this wiring work incorrectly.
The main goal of the Menéndez de la Prida’s lab is to understand the function of the hippocampal and para-hippocampal circuits in the normal and the epileptic brain. We are interested on how complex patterns of activity are produced with a special emphasis in the cellular and synaptic rules that govern circuit dynamics.
My research group has a longstanding interest in the molecular and cellular mechanisms of synaptic plasticity, and their contribution to cognitive processes such as learning and memory. Using electrophysiological, imaging and molecular techniques, we have made important contributions to understand how the membrane trafficking machinery of the neuron controls synaptic function by shuttling neurotransmitter receptors in and out of the synaptic membrane.
Our research is focused on the study of the mechanisms that regulate synapse formation and function in normal conditions and their role in the onset of brain disorders, particularly autism and Alzheimer’s disease.
Our group has been devoted to the study of the neurophysiological basis of animal behavior, from the generation of simple motor responses to the neuronal control of complex behaviors. Our experimental approach is both comparative and multidisciplinary, including the use of electrophysiological, histological, behavioral, and modeling techniques. An important aspect of our research activities is the design of specific instrumentation for Neuroscience.
Glutamate acts as a neurotransmitter at most excitatory synapses and is involved in long-lasting plastic phenomena as well as in neuronal dead-associated pathology such as neurodegeneration. During previous projects, our group have characterized and identified functions for one of the glutamate receptors largely elusive to researchers, the kainate receptor (KAR).
The iGluRsNeuroLab aims to understand the physiology of NMDA-type ionotropic glutamate receptors (iGluRs) and to unveil the molecular and cellular mechanisms bridging the gap between glutamate receptor dysfunctions and neurological diseases, towards the development of targeted therapeutic approaches. Our efforts are focused to elucidate the molecular mechanisms underlying synaptic plasticity processes in post-synaptic glutamatergic neurons.
We are interested in the molecular mechanisms underlying learning and memory storage, more precisely in the role of transcriptional and epigenetic processes in neuronal plasticity. We also investigate how the malfunction of these mechanisms may lead to pathological situations in the nervous system.
The central nervous system has the remarkable ability to process and store information. A crucial step in the formation of long-term memory (LTM) is consolidation, a process in which short-term memory (STM) is converted to LTM. Another striking feature of memory is the retrieval of LTM, whereby memory traces previously stored in defined neuronal circuits are accessed. The hippocampus is a brain region where important cellular processes take place during consolidation and recall of explicit memories. Our lab addresses functional circuits and molecular mechanisms that mediate hippocampus-dependent memory.
Our research aims to understand the molecular mechanisms governing synaptic function. We are specially interested in the proteomic study of postsynaptic protein complexes found at glutamatergic synapses, particularly the postsynaptic density, as these supra-molecular structures are key to the reception and integration of excitatory neural signals.