Processing subthreshold synaptic activity in cerebellar Purkinje cells: a role for T type calcium channels

Nerve cells transmit signals to each other across tiny gaps called synapses. The Purkinje nerve cell receives 150,000 to 175,000 synaptic signals from other nerve cells through synapses that are thought to be major storage sites for information needed to coordinate movement and balance. Loss of Purkinje cells has been associated with numerous neurological diseases and syndromes. Dr. Philippe Isope is studying the role of these synapses in learning and memory. He is investigating how the Purkinje cell is able to select and store information from the vast array of signals it receives. Dr. Isope is also determining if the T-type calcium channel, which has been implicated in a wide range of neurological disorders, filters and ampliflies information from synaptic messages. Calcium channels allow calcium to flow into cells, which supports many cell functions. This research could reveal whether dysfunctions in this calcium channel affect signal integration in the Purkinje cell, leading to learning and memory disorders.