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Organ der Neurowissenschaftlichen Gesellschaft

Editor-in-Chief: Luhmann, Heiko / Wahle, Petra

4 Issues per year

CiteScore 2017: 0.02

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2017: 0.105
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2017: 0.007

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Volume 17, Issue 1


Shapeshifting for memory

Biochemical and electrical signaling in dendritic spines

Prof. Dr. J.S. Wiegert / Prof. Dr. T.G. Oertner
Published Online: 2017-02-25 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s13295-011-0014-5


One of the biggest remaining mysteries of science is inside our heads: how does nature wire up a high-performance computer with­out having a detailed blueprint specifying the location and strength of every connection? It is assumed that local connectivity in our cor­tex is at first random, and during develop­ment undergoes refinement until only the ‘right’ connections are left over. But how can the brain tell ‘right’ from ‘wrong’ connections? The majority of excitatory connections are formed on dendritic spines, tiny excrescenc­es that cover almost the entire dendritic sur­face of most neurons. Since their discovery by Ramón y Cajal in 1896, neuroscientists have been fascinated by these structures, which ultimately determine which neurons in the brain become connected and form function­al networks. Here we review the many im­portant functions of spines and explain why electrical and biochemical processes in these tiny structures are thought to be crucial for the plasticity of the brain.

About the article

Prof. Dr. J.S. Wiegert

2005: received his diploma in biology from the Ruprecht-Karls University, Heidelberg. 2005–2009: PhD thesis in the group of Prof. Dr. Hilmar Bading (Interdisciplinary Center for Neurosciences, University of Heidelberg). At present, Simon Wiegert is a postdoctoral fellow at the Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research (FMI) in Basel. In 2010, he received a Marie Curie Fellowship (Seventh Framework Programme, EU).

Prof. Dr. T.G. Oertner

1997: received his diploma in biology from the Albert-Ludwigs University, Freiburg. 1997–2000: PhD thesis in the group of Prof. Dr. Alexander Borst (Friedrich-Miescher Laboratory of the Max-Planck Society, Tübingen). 2000–2003: Postdoctoral training in the group of Prof. Dr. Karel Svoboda (Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, NY, USA). 2003–2009: Junior group leader at the Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research (FMI) in Basel, Switzerland. In 2009, Thomas Oertner was appointed Senior Scientist at the FMI in Basel. Fellowships: 1997–1999 Member of the Graduiertenkolleg Neurobiology (University of Tübingen); 2000–2001 postdoctoral fellowship from the Swartz Initiative for Computational Neuroscience (Stony Brook, NY, USA). 2005–2008 on the faculty of the summer course Neurobiology (MBL, Woods Hole, MA, USA).

Published Online: 2017-02-25

Published in Print: 2011-03-01

Citation Information: e-Neuroforum, Volume 17, Issue 1, Pages 6–12, ISSN (Online) 1868-856X, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s13295-011-0014-5.

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