Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - LARKUM LAB

Julie Seibt, Ph.D.

The importance of sleep for brain plasticity and memory consolidation has long been
recognized but the physiological processes involved are still poorly understood. Dendrites
represent the main site for synaptic plasticity and, most probably, the physical substrate of
our memories. One reason is that dendrites work as individual functional units, on both
electrical and molecular levels, supporting the idea of input-specific plasticity mechanisms
confined to single dendritic branches. However, virtually nothing is known about dendritic
activity during natural sleep and even less under conditions of experience-dependent

My research goal is to increase our understanding of the role of sleep and preceding
experience on dendritic functions at the cellular and molecular levels.  My project is divided
into three distinct, but related, questions:

(i) How does experience influence dendritic activity during subsequent sleep? 

(ii) What are the interactions between sleep, network oscillations and dendritic activity?

(iii) How is the proteomic profile of the “sleeping” dendrites (and synapses) influenced by experience?

To answer these questions I am using a combination of in vivo Ca2+ imaging, molecular
approaches, and behavioural paradigms in naturally sleeping rodents, in order to contribute
to a more complete model of the function of sleep.

Methods: optical recording, electroencephalography, Ca2+ imaging (1 & 2-photon), molecular biology (genomic & proteomic), behaviour, targeted virus injections, pharmacology