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Synapses, Neuronal Circuits and Behavior - Supported by FENS/IBRO-PERC
April 9 - 20
This course is modular; students in the PDBEB and MBCM programs may opt to attend one of the weeks only (April 9-13: Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience; April 16-20: Neuronal Circuits and Behavior)
Synapses, neuronal circuits and behavior

Supported by FENS/IBRO-PERC

April 9-20, 2018

Location: CNC-Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology, University of Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal


Ana Luísa Carvalho (alc@cnc.uc.pt); CNC, University of Coimbra
Carlos B. Duarte (cbduarte@ci.uc.pt); CNC, University of Coimbra
João Peça (jpeca@cnc.uc.pt); CNC, University of Coimbra

Ana Luísa Cardoso, CNC, University of Coimbra, Portugal ORCID;
Ana Luísa Carvalho, CNC, University of Coimbra, Portugal ORCID; Lab
Ana M. Oliveira, Department of Neurobiology, University of Heidelberg, Germany ORCID; Lab
Ana M. Sebastião, IMM, University of Lisbon, Portugal ORCID; Lab
Carlos Duarte, CNC, University of Coimbra, Portugal ORCID; Lab
Gonçalo Cotovio, Champalimaud Foundation, Lisbon, Portugal Lab
João Peça, CNC, University of Coimbra, Portugal ORCID; Lab
Joe Paton, Champalimaud Foundation, Portugal ORCID; Lab
Luísa Cortes, CNC, University of Coimbra, Portugal ORCID
Luísa Lopes, IMM, University of Lisbon, Portugal Lab
Miguel Remondes, IMM, University of Lisbon, Portugal ORCID; Lab
Patrícia Monteiro, ICVS, University of Minho, Portugal  Lab
Paulo Pinheiro, CNC, University of Coimbra, Portugal ORCID; Lab
Ramiro D. Almeida, CNC, University of Aveiro, Portugal ORCID
Ricardo Rodrigues, CNC, University of Coimbra, Portugal ORCID; Lab
Rui Ponte Costa, Univ. of Oxford, UK and Univ. of Bern, Switzerland ORCID; Lab
Susana Lima, Champalimaud Foundation, Portugal Lab
Vasco Galhardo, University of Porto, Portugal ORCID; Lab

The aim of this course is to provide an integrated view into the functioning of neuronal synapses and circuits, and the methodologies used to probe how neural networks assemble and communicate with one another. A second aim is to address questions related to how neuronal computations give rise to behavioral outputs and perceptions. Teaching will be based on lectures that focus on 1) synapse assembly, function and plasticity; 2) particular circuits or brain region and the underlying behavioral programs; and 3) disorders associated with synaptic dysfunction and circuits malfunction. The students will gain knowledge on how information in coded in the brain and how it is propagated, and will be introduced to the state of the art methodologies applied in the field of neuroimaging, neurophysiology and behavioral analysis. This will include discussion and exploration of practical examples on the application of techniques such as: in vivo recordings with multi-electrode arrays, local field potential analyses, brain imaging, optogenetics, genetic engineering or multi-photon microscopy.
At the University of Coimbra this course is offered to students in the Doctoral Program in Experimental Biology and Biomedicine and in the MIT-PT Bioengineering Doctoral Program, and to students in the Master Program in Molecular Cell Biology. The course is also offered to students supported by FENS and IBRO-PERC stipends.


Name Country Program
Akmaral Suleimenova Kazakhstan MIT-Portugal Bio-Engineering Systems
Ana Rafaela Oliveira Portugal MIT-Portugal Bio-Engineering Systems
Ana Rita Oliveira Portugal MIT-Portugal Bio-Engineering Systems
Ana Rita Pedrosa Portugal MIT-Portugal Bio-Engineering Systems
André Conceição Portugal MBCM (2nd week only)
Antónia Ribeiro Portugal MIB (1st week only)
Athanasia Antoniou Greece FENS/IBRO-PERC stipend
Beatriz Rodrigues Portugal PDBEB
Carolina Peixoto Portugal MIT-Portugal Bio-Engineering Systems
Ines Correia Dias Portugal MBCM (2nd week only)
Inês Ventura Portugal MIB
Ivana Oravcova Czech Republic FENS/IBRO-PERC stipend
João Baptista Moreira Portugal MBCM (2nd week only)
João Miguel Gonçalves Portugal PhD program Pharmaceutical Sciences
Laetitia Gaspar Portugal PDBEB
Maria Inês Nuno Alves Portugal MBCM (2nd week only)
Mohieldin Youssef Japan FENS/IBRO-PERC stipend
Pasqualino Luca Portugal PDBEB
Patrik Kojanec Slovenia MBCM
Patrycja Niewodowska Poland Medical University of Bialystok
Pedro António Ferreira Portugal MBCM (2nd week only)
Ricardo Correia Portugal MIT-Portugal Bio-Engineering Systems
Sylwia Lewoniewska Poland Medical University of Bialystok
Tiago Parracho Portugal PDBIOC
Vahid Nasirimarekani Iran MIT-Portugal Bio-Engineering Systems
Vanessa Fernandes Portugal MBCM (2nd week only)
Yuliia Nikonishyna Kyiv, Ukraine FENS/IBRO-PERC stipend


April 9
9.00h-9.15h: Structure of the course; Introduction of students and lecturers
9.15h-10.45h: Neuronal migration: inter- and intracellular signaling. Ricardo Rodrigues
11.00h-12.30h: Molecular triggers of synapse formation and maturation - Ramiro D. Almeida

14.00h-15.30h: Electrophysiology: a primer (I) - João Peça
16.00h-17.30h: Electrophysiology: a primer (II) - Paulo Pinheiro

April 10
9.00h-10.30h: Introduction to synapses: structure-function and molecular composition - Ana Luisa Carvalho
11.00h-12.30h: Postsynaptic receptor function - Ana Luisa Carvalho

14.00h-15.30h: Presynaptic function - Paulo Pinheiro
16.00 -17.00h: Synaptic plasticity & molecular mechanisms -Ana Luísa Carvalho

April 11
9.00h-10.30h: Computational modelling of synaptic plasticity - Rui Ponte Costa
11.00h-12.30h: Computational modelling of synaptic plasticity (practical session) - Rui Ponte Costa

14.00h-15.30h: Neuromodulation - Carlos Duarte
16.00h-17.30h: Synaptic sculpting by microglia in health and disease – Ana Luisa Cardoso

April 12
9:00h - 10.00h - Multi-photon microscopy: principles and applications; Live imaging of neurons and synapses in vivo - Luisa Cortes

10:30h - 17:30h: Practical sessions
(1) Electrophysiology - Measurement of synaptic parameters in rat hippocampal slices and in cultured rat hippocampal neurons - Paulo Pinheiro & João Peça/Joana Guedes
(2) Two-photon microscopy - Imaging spine dynamics in organotypic hippocampal slices - Luísa Cortes
17:30h: Beer for Thought at the Botanical Garden

April 13
9.00h-10.00h: Molecular Mechanisms in long-term memory formation - Ana Oliveira
10.30h-12.00h: The memory engram – Ana Oliveira

14.00h - 15.00h - DNA methylation players in memory formation. Seminar by Ana M.M. Oliveira
15.30h - 16.30h: Principled views on synapses and circuits: statistical and deep learning – Seminar by Rui Ponte Costa
17.00h: Time to meet with tutors for grant proposal

April 16
9.30h-10.00h: Introduction to the second week of the course and objectives – João Peça
10.00-11.00h: Optogenetics and tools for neuronal circuit dissection – João Peça
11.15-12.15: Synaptic and circuitry mechanisms of basal ganglia dysfunction – Patricia Monteiro

14.00h-14.45h: Lab talks (talks from senior Postdoc or Student)
Studying human neurons in the lab – Catarina Seabra
15.00-16.00h: TBA

April 17
9.30h-16.30h: Practical sessions
(1) Electrophysiology - Measurement of synaptic parameters in rat hippocampal slices and in cultured rat hippocampal neurons - Paulo Pinheiro & João Peça/Joana Guedes
(2) Two-photon microscopy - Imaging spine dynamics in organotypic hippocampal slices - Luísa Cortes

April 18
10.30h-11.30h: Circuit dysfunction in post-lesional bipolar disorder: from lesions to circuits – Gonçalo Cotovio
11.30h-12.30h: Cortico-hippocampal neural circuits in memory-driven behaviors - Miguel Remondes

14.00h-14.45h: Lab talks: New animal models of ASD - Mohamed Edfawy
15.00-16.00h: “Toward a circuit level understanding of cognition” - Seminar by Joe Paton

April 19
9.30h-10.30h: Synaptic dysfunction in neuropsychiatric disorders – Ana Luísa Carvalho
10.30h-11.30h: Modulation of GABAergic inhibitory inputs in the hippocampus – Ana Sebastião
11.45h-12.45h: Hypothalamic circuits – Susana Lima
12.45h-13.45h: Mate Selection – Susana Lima

15.00-16.00h: “Lessons from synaptic dysfunction in aging to model neurodegeneration” Seminar by Luisa Lopes

April 20
10.00h-10.45h: Genetic dissection of autism spectrum disorders – João Peça
11.00h-12.30h: Social Neuroscience - Rui Oliveira

14.00h-14.45h: “Neurobiology of social behaviour in zebrafish” Seminar - Rui Oliveira

15.15-16:30h: Graphical abstract presentation by students

Practical sessions:

Practical sessions - April 12 Practical sessions - April 17
Electrophysiology (9) Electrophysiology (11)
Ana Rafaela Oliveira Vahid Nasirimarekani
Ana Rita Pedrosa Akmaral Suleimenova
Ana Rita Oliveira

Ricardo Correia Athanasia Antoniou
Mohieldin Youssef Yuliia Nikonishyna
Ivana Oravcova João Miguel da Silva Gonçalves
Patrik Kojanec Tiago Parracho
Sylwia Lewoniewska Ines Correia Dias
Inês Ventura
João Baptista Moreira
  Maria Inês Nuno Alves
  Patrycja Niewodowska
2P microscopy (10) 2P microscopy (12)
Vahid Nasirimarekani Ana Rafaela Oliveira
Akmaral Suleimenova Ana Rita Pedrosa
Carolina Peixoto
Ana Rita Oliveira
Athanasia Antoniou Ricardo Correia
Yuliia Nikonishyna Mohieldin Youssef
João Miguel Gonçalves Ivana Oravcova
Tiago Parracho Laetitia Gaspar
Pasqualino Luca Beatriz Rodrigues
Antónia Ribeiro Pedro António Ferreira
Patrycja Niewodowska Vanessa Fernandes
  Sylwia Lewoniewska
  Patrick Kojanec
  Inês Ventura


Students groups:

Student group Student group
Ana Rafaela Oliveira 1 Sylwia Lewoniewska 5
Athanasia Antoniou 1 Yuliia Nikonishyna 5
João Miguel Gonçalves 1 Carolina Peixoto 5
Vahid Nasirimarekani 2 Ines Correia Dias 6
Laetitia Gaspar 2 João Baptista Moreira 6
Ricardo Correia 2 Maria Inês Nuno Alves 6
Ana Rita Pedrosa 3 Vanessa Fernandes 7
Mohieldin Youssef 3 Pedro António Ferreira 7
Tiago Parracho 3 Inês Ventura 7
Akmaral Suleimenova 4 Ivana Oravcova 8
Pasqualino Luca 4 Beatriz Rodrigues 8
Antónia Ribeiro
André Conceição 8
    Ana Rita Oliveira 9
    Patrycja Niewodowska 9

Graphical abstract of seminar (each group choose one of the following seminars) – to be presented April 20 at the end of the course:

DNA methylation players in memory formation - Seminar by Ana M.M. Oliveira
Principled views on synapses and circuits: statistical and deep learning – Seminar by Rui Ponte Costa
Toward a circuit level understanding of cognition - Seminar by Joe Paton
Lessons from synaptic dysfunction in aging to model neurodegeneration - Seminar by Luisa Lopes
Neurobiology of social behaviour in zebrafish - Seminar - Rui Oliveira

Grant proposal – deadline for delivery April 22:
The students (in groups) will write a grant proposal based on original papers proposed to them. The grant proposal is 3 pages long and should include the following sections: a) State of the art; b) Objectives of proposal; 3) Proposed tasks and methodology. Throughout the course the students can meet with tutors for discussing the grant proposal.

Articles for grant proposals:

Dick Wu1,2,3*, Taulant Bacaj1*, Wade Morishita2,3*, Debanjan Goswami2,3, Kristin L. Arendt4, Wei Xu1†, Lu Chen4, Robert C. Malenka2,3 & Thomas C. Südhof1 (2017) Postsynaptic synaptotagmins mediate AMPA receptor exocytosis during LTP. Nature doi: 10.1038/nature21720
Students: Ana Rita Pedrosa, Mohieldin Youssef, Tiago Parracho (Tutor: Paulo Pinheiro)

Penn AC, Zhang CL, Georges F, Royer L, Breillat C, Hosy E, Petersen JD, Humeau Y, Choquet D (2017) Hippocampal LTP and contextual learning require surface diffusion of AMPA receptors. Nature. 549, 384-388.
Students: Ana Rafaela Oliveira, Athanasia Antoniou, João Miguel da Silva Gonçalves (Tutor: Ana Luísa Carvalho)

Diering GH, Nirujogi RS, Roth RH, Worley PF, Pandey A, Huganir RL (2017) Homer1a drives homeostatic scaling-down of excitatory synapses during sleep. Science 355, 511-515.
Students: Vahid Nasirimarekani, Laetitia Gaspar, Ricardo Correia (Tutor: Ana Luísa Carvalho)

Harward SC, Hedrick NG, Hall CE, Parra-Bueno P, Milner TA, Pan E, Laviv T, Hempstead BL, Yasuda R, McNamara JO. (2016) Autocrine BDNF-TrkB signalling within a single dendritic spine. Nature. 538(7623):99-103.
Students: Carolina Peixoto, Yuliia Nikonishyna, Sylwia Lewoniewska (Tutor: Carlos Duarte)

Carla G. Silva, Christine Métin, Walid Fazeli, Nuno J. Machado, Sanja Darmopil, Pierre-Serge Launay, Antoine Ghestem, Marie-Pascale Nesa, Emilie Bassot, Eszter Szabó, Younis Baqi, Christa E. Müller, Angelo R. Tomé, Anton Ivanov, Dirk Isbrandt, Yuri Zilberter, Rodrigo A. Cunha, Monique Esclapez, Christophe Bernard (2013) Adenosine Receptor Antagonists IncludingCaffeine Alter Fetal Brain Development in Mice. Science Translational Medicine 5, 197ra104
Students: Akmaral Suleimenova, Pasqualino Luca, Antónia Ribeiro (Tutor: Ricardo Rodrigues)

Han, W. et al. Integrated Control of Predatory Hunting by the Central Nucleus of the Amygdala. Cell 168, 311–324.e18 (2016).
Students: Inês Correia Dias, João Baptista Moreira, Maria Inês Nuno Alves (Tutor: João Peça)

Lin, D. et al. Functional identification of an aggression locus in the mouse hypothalamus. Nature 470, 221–6 (2011).
Students: Vanessa Fernandes, Pedro Ferreira (Tutor: João Peça)

Peixoto, R, Wang, W, Croney, D, Kozorovitskiy, Y, Sabatini, B. Early hyperactivity and precocious maturation of corticostriatal circuits in Shank3B-/- mice. (2016). doi:10.1038/nn.4260
Students: André Conceição, Ivana Oravcova, Beatriz Rodrigues (Tutor: João Peça)

Burk K, Ramachandran B, Ahmed S, Hurtado-Zavala JI, Awasthi A, Benito E, Faram R, Ahmad H, Swaminathan A, McIlhinney J, Fischer A, Perestenko P, Dean C. (2018) Regulation of Dendritic Spine Morphology in Hippocampal Neurons by Copine-6. Cereb Cortex. 28(4):1087-1104.
Students: Ana Rita Oliveira, Patrycja Niewodowska (Tutor: Carlos Duarte)

Background reading:
Pinto MJ and Almeida RD (2016) Puzzling out presynaptic differentiation. J. Neurochem. (2016) 10.1111/jnc.13702
Neural Signaling, Channels and Transporters
D. Purves et al. Neuroscience
Presynaptic Mechanisms:
Sudhof T (2013) Neurotransmitter Release: The Last Millisecond in the Life of a Synaptic Vesicle. Neuron 80,675.
Synaptic plasticity
Nicoll RA (2016) A Brief History of Long-Term Potentiation. Neuron 93, 281.
Victoria M. Ho, Ji-Ann Lee and Kelsey C Martin (2011) The cell biology of synaptic plasticity. Science 334, 623. DOI: 10.1126/science.1209236
Fernandes D and Carvalho AL (2016) Mechanisms of homeostatic plasticity in the excitatory synapse. J Neurochem 139, 973-996.
Regehr WG (2012). Short-Term Presynaptic Plasticity. Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Biology, 4(7).
Tsodyks M, & Markram H (1997). The neural code between neocortical pyramidal neurons depends on neurotransmitter release probability. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 94(2), 719–723.
Markram H, Lübke J, Frotscher M, & Sakmann B (1997). Regulation of synaptic efficacy by coincidence of postsynaptic APs and EPSPs. Science, 275(5297), 213–215.
Sjöström PJ and Gerstner W (2010). Spike-timing-dependent plasticity. Scholarpedia, 5(2):1362.
Costa RP, Froemke RC, Sjöström PJ, & van Rossum MC (2015). Unified pre- and postsynaptic long-term plasticity enables reliable and flexible learning. eLife, 4
Farzan Nadim and Dirk Bucher. (2014) Neuromodulation of neurons and synapses. Current Opinion in Neurobiology, 29:48–56. Doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2014.05.003
Leal G, Bramham CR, Duarte CB. (2017) BDNF and Hippocampal Synaptic Plasticity. Vitam Horm. 104:153-195.
Two-Photon Microscopy
Svoboda K and Yasuda R (2006) Principles of Two-Photon Excitation Primer Microscopy and Its Applications to Neuroscience. Neuron 50, 823–839.
Circuits and behavior
Luo, L., Callaway, E. M. & Svoboda, K. Genetic Dissection of Neural Circuits. Neuron 57, 634–660 (2008).
Lerner, T. N., Ye, L. & Deisseroth, K. Primer Communication in Neural Circuits : (2016). doi:10.1016/j.cell.2016.02.027

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