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D04 The functional role of phase synchronization for the induction of synaptic plasticity

Synaptic long-term plasticity is the best studied cellular correlate of learning in animals. It is probably linked to phase synchronization of EEG oscillations (Fell and Axmacher, Nat Rev Neurosci 2011; see Figure). However, the direct role of phase synchronization for human memory processes still remains unclear. In this project, we aim to study the causal role of phase synchronization for synaptic plasticity by a combination of intracranial EEG recordings in epilepsy patients and in vivo electrophysiology in rats.

In the human sub-project, we will induce synaptic plasticity by synchronized deep brain stimulation to the medial temporal lobe and explore its effect on hippocampus-dependent memory tasks. In the animal sub-project, we will conduct complementary experiments in rats in vivo. These experiments aim to investigate the cellular mechanisms by which gamma and theta phase synchronization facilitate long-term potentiation as a putative cellular mechanism of memory formation.