Real progress in neuroscience research can only be achieved through highly multidisciplinary approaches. This necessarily involves the collaboration of experts from fields as different as behavioural sciences, electrophysiology or molecular biology. In this network scientists form these and other disciplines have joined to accelerate research in the study of the synaptic role in brain disorders involving cognitive impairment, such as neurodevelopmental disorders, or cognitive decline, such as neurodegenerative diseases.
The synapse is a central structure to brain function, and its disturbance is associated with the pathophysiology of neurodevelopmental, psychiatric, and neurodegenerative diseases. Distinct forms of synaptic alterations are currently hypothesized to underlie the above disorders, from synaptic loss, to changes in synaptogenesis or synaptic imbalance, which often turn into epileptic episodes. The scientific focus of SynCogDys network is to better understand how disruption of normal synaptic biology impacts cognition with the ultimate goal to identify new strategies for treatment of these devastating disorders.
Exploring the synaptic mechanisms relevant to altered cognition poses a great challenge as it requires the use of multidisciplinary experimental approaches; these include behaviour, electrophysiology, pharmacology, molecular biology or bioinformatics, all of which are rarely mastered by single laboratories. The SynCogDys network has been designed to allow interaction between groups that use very different experimental approaches to study synapse-dependent phenomena and their role in disease. This network balances expertise at multiple levels, from molecules, to single-cells, to circuits, to systems biology and behavior. The major goal of this network is to facilitate the exchange of technology and knowledge between its members, ultimately empowering them to perform highly interdisciplinary research.
SynCogDys will promote scientific discussions, exchange of biological materials, mobility of scientists between teams to learn new skills, and will contribute to strengthen collaboration among their members. Through its integrative research approach, SynCogDys network will increase our understanding of the synaptic basis of diseases that impair cognitive function.
The coordinated work of the members of this network will help identify specific mechanisms of synaptic dysfunction that contribute to neurological conditions characterized by impaired cognition. The network will focus on studying the diseases that are already object of study by the different members, following a systematic analysis and with the collaboration of the different teams. These either fall into neurodegenerative diseases, as Alzheimer’s (Gropus: Gruart, Esteban, Gómez-Scholl and Altafaj), Huntington (Groups: Barco and Pérez-Otaño) or Parkinson’s (Pérez-Otaño) or neurodevelopmental disorders such as intellectual disability and developmental delay (Groups: Bayés, Lerma, Barco and Altafaj), Down Syndrome (Altafaj) and autism (Gómez-Scholl). Furthermore, specific diseases phenotypes that are comorbid to most of all these maladies will also be object of study by this network, including epilepsy (Group: Menéndez de la Prida) or anxiety (Groups: Sindreu and Lerma).
Objectives of the network
- To put together Spanish research laboratories that share an interest on the biology of the synapse but use very different experimental approaches.
- To help its members incorporate new techniques and methods to their research framework.
- To help its members disseminate their findings amongst the scientific community.
- To promote scientific training and mobility of early stage scientists.
- To promote multidisciplinary research in neuroscience.
- To better understand how synaptic molecular mechanism shape cognition and behaviour.
- To investigate how synaptic dysfunction contributes to brain disorders.
- To increase social awareness about the relevance of synaptic function to normal cognition and cognitive impairment.