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Read more about Dr. Mostany's research

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Ricardo Mostany, Ph.D.

Pharmacology Department

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Our brain is able to do incredible things. It is able to do mathematical calculations, think about the future, compose pieces of music, remember the past, and learn new things, just to name a few. Paradoxically, while we are able to build a calculator to help us to solve numerical calculations, we do not know how our brain is able to design such device or to compute those type of calculations. To do all these amazing things the brain utilizes very specialized cells called neurons that are assembled forming neural circuits.

In my laboratory, we are interested in how these neural circuits are assembled, and in particular, in the cellular mechanisms that the brain utilizes to learn new things and to remember. We are especially interested in understanding how the aging brain handles sensory information coming from the outside as well as how it learns new motor tasks. We think that the aged brain is not able to maintain the contacts between brain cells within a neural circuit for as long as a young brain does, leading to both, impaired transmission of information between neurons and deficient formation and endurance of memories. This inability to maintain the contacts between brain cells may be the reason why the aging brain shows deficits learning and remembering. If we are able to identify the mechanism responsible for this impairment, we would be able to design therapeutic approaches to delay the onset of the decline in brain functionalities associated with healthy aging. In addition, in a separate project, we are studying the potential effect of estrogen on the dynamics of the neuron-neuron communications during the oscillations of this hormone occurring along the estrous cycle. To perform these studies we use cutting-edge imaging and electrophysiology techniques that allow us to monitor the structural and functional changes occurring in the neurons as a consequence of sensory manipulations or learning of a motor task.

 

1430 Tulane Ave, New Orleans, LA 70112 504-988-5251 physiology@wave.tulane.edu