Welcome to the Dickman Lab at USC!!
We are interested in synapse development, function, and plasticity in general, and the mechanisms that homeostatically tune synaptic strength stabilize neural function in particular. We hypothesize that the brain is endowed with potent and adaptive mechanisms that maintain stable nervous system function despite the many challenges that perturb activity throughout life and into old age. Evidence for the homeostatic control of synaptic function has been demonstrated in a variety of organisms, from invertebrates to humans, indicating these are ancient and fundamental signaling systems. These processes are thought to counteract perturbations to activity during health and disease, including development, growth, remodeling, experience, and aging of the mature nervous system, to orchestrate stable neural activity. We use the premier genetic model organism Drosophila melanogaster and a combination of genetic, electrophysiological, imaging, and behavioral approaches to discover the molecular, cellular, and synaptic mechanisms that achieve and maintain the stability of synaptic transmission. We also hope to determine how dysfunction in these processes contributes to the etiology of cognitive, neurological, neurodegenerative, and neuropsychiatric diseases.