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Our memories define who we are. Here, learning and memory are essential but how does the brain process and store information? Neurons are the elemental cells that compute and store this information in several ways. ALESSIO ATTARDO is interested in synapses. Synapses are the connections between neurons and this is where information flows. Specifically, Attardo focuses on the basic principles that govern synaptic plasticity in the hippocampus, the brain area that is involved in processing and recalling episodes of daily life. Using technology that allows inserting a piece of optical fiber in a mouse brain, his research group was able to track synapses in the hippocampus which allowed them to quantify how stable these synapses are over time. Their results confirm the hypothesis that the stability of synapses reflects the permanence of information in a brain region. Understanding how memories are stored allows designing treatments that can help patients with memory loss, such as Alzheimer's patients.


Holding faculty positions at a number of prestigious universities in Germany and the USA, Dr. Alessio Attardo is Group Leader in the Department of Stress Neurobiology and Neurogenetics at the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry. Having completed his doctoral work at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, Attardo spent several years at Stanford University, first as a postdoctoral fellow and later as a HHMI research specialist. Attardo’s research focuses on hippocampal plasticity as well as representation and memory during stress. With his current research being supported by a number of long term grants from the DFG, since 2019, Attardo has been invited to present his research to specialist institutes in Greece, Italy, Germany and Israel.


Max Planck Institute for Psychiatry

Das Ziel des Max-Planck-Instituts für Psychiatrie ist es, durch eine einzigartig enge Verbindung von Grundlagenforschung, klinischer Forschung und Patientenversorgung neue Erkenntnisse über die Ursachen von psychiatrischen Erkrankungen zu gewinnen und in neue diagnostische Möglichkeiten und Behandlungs- sowie Präventionsansätze umzuwandeln. Stress- und Trauma bedingte Erkrankungen wie Depression und Angsterkrankungen bilden den Schwerpunkt unserer Forschung und unserer klinischen Behandlungsangebote.

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Original publication

Impermanence of Dendritic Spines in Live Adult CA1 Hippocampus

Attardo Alessio, Fitzgerald James E. and Schnitzer Mark J.
Published in 2015

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