Aaron McGee, Ph.D.
Anatomical Science & Neurobiology
University of Louisville
“A genetic dissection of circuits and mechanisms for critical period plasticity”
Experience refines developing brain circuitry and this plasticity is most prominent during transitory critical periods. Yet abnormal experience during critical periods can yield changes in neural function that are difficult to reverse and subsequently maladaptive. A premier model for studying how experience alters neural circuitry is the effect of monocular deprivation on ocular dominance (OD) and visual acuity. Over the last several years we have investigated how specific genes govern the onset, magnitude, and duration, of the critical period(s) for OD and acuity with a genetic dissection strategy. This seminar will focus on our efforts to manipulate a specific neuronal gene that limits experience-dependent plasticity, the nogo-66 receptor (NgR1), to improve understanding of the circuits and mechanisms that operate during critical periods, and to develop therapeutics to promote plasticity in the adult brain.