The Bernstein-CorTec Award honors outstanding scientific achievements in the field of Computational Neuroscience and Neurotechnology. The prize is awarded annually, alternating for Doctoral and Master theses. In 2023, the prize is awarded to Aadhar Sharma for his Master Thesis on the topic: “The Dynamics of Adult Neurogenesis in the Dentate Gyrus”.
The large-scale structural organization of the adult brain is relatively stable and unchanging. However, in some animal species, including humans, new neurons are born and integrated into the hippocampal network throughout lifetime. The hippocampus is involved in functions such as memory formation, pattern separation, pattern completion, and spatial navigation, among others. However, it is currently not clear how the integration of newborn neurons in the hippocampus affects its function.
Most neurons in the hippocampus are born early in development and have functional properties that are distinct from adult-born cells. These initially distinct properties of adult-born cells gradually converge to those of developmentally-born neurons in an age-dependent manner. It is suspected that this functional distinction and gradual maturation is responsible for the integration of adult-born cells into the existing brain networks.
To assay the dynamics of adult neurogenesis, Aadhar Sharma developed a model in which, following a maturation process, adult-born neurons form plastic connections and interact with other neurons in the hippocampal network. Large-scale numerical simulations revealed that age-dependent functional properties are indeed critical for the integration of adult-born neurons into the preexisting network. Furthermore, an analysis of the network dynamics suggests that, if large numbers of adult-born neurons are rapidly added, pathological states may emerge. Data also suggest that adult-born and developmentally-born neurons may be involved in a competition-based appropriation of synapses.
The award winner performed his work in the laboratory of Prof. Dr. Stefan Rotter, who also supervised the MSc thesis, together with his colleague Prof. Dr. Josef Bischofberger from the University of Basel.
After attaining his MSc in November 2022, Aadhar Sharma has started a PhD thesis in Prof. Rotter’s lab and is now working on the contribution of neurogenesis to the biological function of the hippocampus.
Save the Date:
Aadhar Sharma will present the work he was awarded for with the Bernstein-CorTec Award in a Special Bernstein Seminar on February 28, 2024 at 12:15 hrs in the Bernstein Center Freiburg.