Alev Erisir

Erisir, Alev

Primary Appointment

Professor, Psychology

Education

  • MD, Medicine, Istanbul University
  • PhD, Psychology/Neurobiology, SUNY at Stony Brook
  • Postdoc, Neuroanatomy, New York University
  • Postdoc, Neurophysiology, New York Medical College

Contact Information

PO Box 400400
Gilmer 187 and 079
Telephone: 243-3549
Email: ae4h@virginia.edu
Website: http://faculty.virginia.edu/erisirlab/

Research Disciplines

Neuroscience, Psychology

Research Interests

Developmental Plasticity and Neuropathology of Synaptic Circuitries.

Research Description

We are interested in the development and plasticity of visual system. Our present research is concentrated on an early neonatal period in life, before the visual cortex attains its mature structure and function, that is, before lifelong connections among neurons are formed, and adult-type molecular signatures of different circuitries are established. During this period, the brain maintains a remarkable malleability to changes in the environment, such as lack of light, or lack of balanced stimulation through both eyes. By studying the molecules that are in function during this period, we aim to understand plasticity, that is what allows the brain to change, adapt, learn or resist to change in response to alterations in our environment. In particular, we are interested in the changing patterns of glutamate and GABA receptor localization in cells that receive monosynaptic input from developing thalamocortical cells, during, before and after the critical period for ocular dominance formation. We use the techniques, including tract-tracing and immunocytochemisty, to examine temporal sequence of neurotransmitter receptor localization at light and electron microscope resolutions.


UNLEASH (Undergraduate Research)

Postnatal development of the brain is characterized by plastic stages during which abnormal sensory stimulation can lead to life-long changes in the organization of brain circuitry. Our lab aims to understand the biological mechanisms that enable this plasticity. What makes some young neurons lose their ability to respond to alterations in the sensory environment at the end of critical periods? What are the mechanisms by which sensitive periods of plasticity are initiated and terminated? What are the molecular and cellular players in processes that enable long-term structural changes in brain synaptic circuitry? Using anatomical techniques including immuno-electron microscopy, serial EM reconstructions, tract-tracing and confocal microscopy, we aim to reveal the changes that occur in visual and gustatory system connectivity, neurotransmitter receptor and other pre/postsynaptic protein localizations during and after sensitive periods of plasticity, and during the aging process of these model systems.
Upon joining the lab, RAs are assigned to an ongoing project. At the initial stages of the training, RAs learn tissue preparation techniques, light and electron microscope use, 3D reconstructions using connectomics approaches and digital image analysis. Typically after several months of active contribution, RAs start formulating a project that they may use as their Distinguished Major thesis. Attending our regular lab meetings is also recommended. At least two semesters of commitment is required.
Contact: Prof. Erisir erisir@virginia.edu

Selected Publications