Dr Tom Pettini
My research focuses on understanding how experience during a critical period towards the end of embryonic development leads to differences in nerve cell structure and connectivity in later larvae. Our experimental approach is to subject embryos to either systemic or cell-type-specific manipulations during the critical period, then use high resolution imaging of fluorescent protein markers to quantify changes in cell arbor structure, and the number and size of synapses between specific interneurons and motor neurons. This work is in collaboration with the Richard Baines group at the University of Manchester, who specialise in measuring the electrophysiological changes in response to such manipulations. We envisage that the combination of high resolution imaging to reveal physical changes in wiring, paired with electrophysiology to assay function, will provide insight into how neural networks adjust to internal and external environments during a critical window of development.
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