Mathematical Biology Seminar

Date/Time/Room: Tuesday (11/20/2001) at 2:00pm in 304 Pickard Hall

Speaker: Steven M. Baer, Department of Mathematics, Arizona State University

``Exploring the Dynamics of Dendritic Spines''

Abstract: Dendritic spines are thorny protrusions from the dendritic surface of several functionally important classes of nerve cells. They are the postsynaptic targets of over 90% of all excitatory synapses in the central nervous system. A single nerve cell may be studded with hundreds to thousands of spines. In addition to being abundant in brain regions associated with learning and memory, spines are important for modulating input at the first synapse of the retina, and less known, for distributing multi-terminal input at some neuromuscular junctions. The first part of this talk will be an introduction to dendritic spines and dendritic spine modeling. Then, motivated by recent experiments on synapse restructuring, and guided by diagrammatic models in the literature, I will formulate a nonlinear cable model of a dendritic spine system to explore how slow activity-dependent changes in spine structure can influence and be influenced by rapid changes in electrical and chemical activity.