Biophysical Approaches in the Neurosciences
Prof. Erwin Neher
Max-Planck-Institut für biophysikalische Chemie, Göttingen
Premio Nobel per la Medicina – 1991
ABSTRACT: Current Neuroscience Research proceeds in two directions:
The "top-down-approach" studies the higher brain functions, such as memory, consciousness and cognition. It uses modern imaging technology and psychophysical tests to localize and quantitate these accomplishments.
The "bottom-up approach" starts with the genome and the signaling molecules, which underlie the information processing in the brain. It studies properties of these molecules and the interactions among them with the aim to understand mechanisms, such as nerve impulse propagation and synaptic transmission. Our work takes this approach, taking advantage of a very special synapse in the auditory pathway, the Calyx of Held. Precise electrophysiological and fluorimetric techniques can be applied to this synapse revealing details of the intricate mechanisms by which calcium signals control synaptic transmission and its short-term plasticity.