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Mechanical brain: The force of dendritic spine synapses for memory and cognition

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We have used two-photon glutamate uncaging in vitro and in vivo to study the functions of dendritic spines in the hippocampus, cortex, and striatum. We have found the structure-function relationship, long-term structural plasticity, and time-sensitive modulation of this process by dopamine. We recently found that this spine enlargement pushes the presynaptic terminal and facilitates the presynaptic functions with muscle-like force: mechanical synaptic transmission. Our findings suggest that the brain is mechanical and uses force to leave structural traces for both short-term and long-term memory for cognitive functions.


1. Kasai, H., Ucar, H., Morimoto, Y., Eto, F. & Okazaki, H. Mechanical transmission at spine synapses: Short-term potentiation and working memory. Curr Opin Neurobiol 80, doi:10.1016/j.conb.2023.102706 (2023).

2. Ucar, H., Watanabe, S., Noguchi, J., Morimoto, Y., Iino, Y., Yagishita, S., Takahashi, N. & Kasai, H. Mechanical actions of dendritic-spine enlargement on presynaptic exocytosis. Nature 600, 686-689, doi:10.1038/s41586-021-04125-7 (2021).

3. Iino, Y., Sawada, T., Yamaguchi, K., Tajiri, M., Ishii, S., Kasai, H. & Yagishita, S. Dopamine D2 receptors in discrimination learning and spine enlargement. Nature 579, 555-560, doi:10.1038/s41586-020-2115-1 (2020).

Host: Ingo Greger at LMB

This talk is part of the Cambridge Neuroscience Seminars series.

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