The laboratory for
Neurobiology of Learning
Edi Barkai, Ph.D.
Edi Barkai, Ph.D.
Head of the Laboratory for
neurobiology of learning and memory
Our primary interest
is the cellular mechanisms underlying learning and memory in the
mammalian brain. To bridge the gap between learning related
behavioral phenomena and their underlying single cell mechanisms,
our research combines cellular neurophysiology biochemistry and
morphology with behavioral neuroscience. We are using an olfactory
conditioning paradigm, in which rats have to memorize odors in order
to get rewarded with drinking water.
Our data show that odor training results in the following
learning-related cellular modifications of intrinsic and synaptic
properties in piriform cortex pyramidal neurons:
1. Increased neuronal excitability (Saar et al., 2001; Saar and
Barkai, 2003, Zelcer et
al., 2003; Brosh et al., 2006)
2. Enhanced synaptic transmission (Saar et al., 2001; 2002).
3. Increased spine density on apical and basal dendrites, and
modifications in single
spine morphology (Kanfo et al., 2005a,b).
4. Predisposition for long-term potentiation (LTP) is decreased and
Long-term depression (LTD) is increased as result of a modifications
in the subunit
composition of the NMDA receptor (Lebel et al., 2001; Quinlan et
Our current research is aimed to address four major questions:
1. What are the learning-relevant modifications in inhibitory
and what are the mechanisms of inducing and maintaining such
2. What is the precise mechanism by which long-lasting enhancement
transmission is maintained?
3. How is increased neuronal excitability in cortical and
hippocampal neurons related
to general enhancement in the animals' ability to acquire complex
4. What is the role of metabotropic glutamate receptors in inducing
learning-relevant neuronal activity?