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LIFE synapses SIGNED

Long-term Investigation of Functional Excitatory Synapses: Linking Plasticity, Network Wiring andMemory Storage

Total Cost €


EC-Contrib. €






Project "LIFE synapses" data sheet

The following table provides information about the project.


Organization address
address: Martinistrasse 52
postcode: 20251

contact info
title: n.a.
name: n.a.
surname: n.a.
function: n.a.
email: n.a.
telephone: n.a.
fax: n.a.

 Coordinator Country Germany [DE]
 Total cost 1˙500˙000 €
 EC max contribution 1˙500˙000 € (100%)
 Programme 1. H2020-EU.1.1. (EXCELLENT SCIENCE - European Research Council (ERC))
 Code Call ERC-2016-STG
 Funding Scheme ERC-STG
 Starting year 2017
 Duration (year-month-day) from 2017-04-01   to  2022-03-31


Take a look of project's partnership.

# participants  country  role  EC contrib. [€] 


 Project objective

The nature of the physical substrate of memory – or engram – is probably one of the longest studied mysteries in neuroscience, and yet it still remains elusive. In recent years, the search for the engram has gained new momentum due to the possibilities of optogenetic activation and silencing of specific neurons in the brain. Recent studies suggest that the engram could be defined as the subset of neurons that is necessary and sufficient to cause recall of a specific memory when activated. But where is the engram when the neurons are not active? Most likely, ‘lasting alterations’ during memory formation are encoded in synaptic connections, forming a specific circuit that is able to trigger memory recall when active. This raises the possibility that the engram could be encoded in a pattern of altered synapses, not a pattern of cell bodies.

Long-lasting potentiation or depression of synaptic efficacy is thought to underlie learning and memory formation suggesting that the engram could be stored in the strength of synapses. Yet, most excitatory synapses in the brain are highly plastic and show pronounced morphological dynamics. It is therefore not clear to what extent engrams can be stored in a network of synapses and how functional and structural changes of individual synapses contribute to the engram.

The central aim of this proposal is to identify synapses participating in the engram and to study their morphological stability and pre- and postsynaptic functional properties. With novel optogenetic approaches and molecular markers we will investigate functional synapses in their native circuit over the time scale of weeks. By connecting functional long-term analysis of single synapses with morphological observations the proposed project will fill a wide gap in our understanding of how synapses encode and store information. I anticipate that my work will transform our knowledge about the location and mechanism of memory storage in the brain.


year authors and title journal last update
List of publications.
2019 Alberto Perez-Alvarez, Brenna C. Fearey, Christian Schulze, Ryan J. O’Toole, Benjamien Moeyaert, Manuel A. Mohr, Ignacio Arganda-Carreras, Wei Yang, J. Simon Wiegert, Eric R. Schreiter, Christine E. Gee, Michael B. Hoppa, Thomas G. Oertner
Freeze-frame imaging of synaptic activity using SynTagMA
published pages: , ISSN: , DOI: 10.1101/538041
bioRxiv 2020-01-30
2019 Céline D. Dürst, J. Simon Wiegert, Nordine Helassa, Silke Kerruth, Catherine Coates, Christian Schulze, Michael A. Geeves, Katalin Török, Thomas G. Oertner
High-speed imaging of glutamate release with genetically encoded sensors
published pages: 1401-1424, ISSN: 1754-2189, DOI: 10.1038/s41596-019-0143-9
Nature Protocols 14/5 2020-01-30
2019 Margarita Anisimova, Bas van Bommel, J. Simon Wiegert, Marina Mikhaylova, Thomas G. Oertner, Christine E. Gee
Long vs short-term synaptic learning rules after optogenetic spike-timing-dependent plasticity
published pages: , ISSN: , DOI: 10.1101/863365
biorxiv 2020-01-30
2019 Ofer Yizhar, J. Simon Wiegert
Designer Drugs for Designer Receptors: Unlocking the Translational Potential of Chemogenetics
published pages: 362-364, ISSN: 0165-6147, DOI: 10.1016/
Trends in Pharmacological Sciences 40/6 2020-01-30
2019 Johannes Oppermann, Paul Fischer, Arita Silapetere, Bernhard Liepe, Silvia Rodriguez-Rozada, José Flores-Uribe, Enrico Peter, Anke Keidel, Johannes Vierock, Joel Kaufmann, Matthias Broser, Meike Luck, Franz Bartl, Peter Hildebrandt, J. Simon Wiegert, Oded Béjà, Peter Hegemann, Jonas Wietek
MerMAIDs: a family of metagenomically discovered marine anion-conducting and intensely desensitizing channelrhodopsins
published pages: , ISSN: 2041-1723, DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-11322-6
Nature Communications 10/1 2020-01-30
2019 Sonja Binder, Matthias Mölle, Michael Lippert, Ralf Bruder, Sonat Aksamaz, Frank Ohl, J. Simon Wiegert, Lisa Marshall
Monosynaptic Hippocampal-Prefrontal Projections Contribute to Spatial Memory Consolidation in Mice
published pages: 6978-6991, ISSN: 0270-6474, DOI: 10.1523/jneurosci.2158-18.2019
The Journal of Neuroscience 39/35 2020-01-30
2018 J Simon Wiegert, Mauro Pulin, Christine Elizabeth Gee, Thomas G Oertner
The fate of hippocampal synapses depends on the sequence of plasticity-inducing events
published pages: , ISSN: 2050-084X, DOI: 10.7554/eLife.39151
eLife 7 2019-10-08
2017 Jonas Wietek, Silvia Rodriguez-Rozada, Janine Tutas, Federico Tenedini, Christiane Grimm, Thomas G. Oertner, Peter Soba, Peter Hegemann, J. Simon Wiegert
Anion-conducting channelrhodopsins with tuned spectra and modified kinetics engineered for optogenetic manipulation of behavior
published pages: , ISSN: 2045-2322, DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-14330-y
Scientific Reports 7/1 2019-10-08
2018 Kazumasa Oda, Johannes Vierock, Satomi Oishi, Silvia Rodriguez-Rozada, Reiya Taniguchi, Keitaro Yamashita, J. Simon Wiegert, Tomohiro Nishizawa, Peter Hegemann, Osamu Nureki
Crystal structure of the red light-activated channelrhodopsin Chrimson
published pages: , ISSN: 2041-1723, DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-06421-9
Nature Communications 9/1 2019-10-08
2018 Nordine Helassa, Céline D. Dürst, Catherine Coates, Silke Kerruth, Urwa Arif, Christian Schulze, J. Simon Wiegert, Michael Geeves, Thomas G. Oertner, Katalin Török
Ultrafast glutamate sensors resolve high-frequency release at Schaffer collateral synapses
published pages: 5594-5599, ISSN: 0027-8424, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1720648115
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 115/21 2019-05-27
2017 J. Simon Wiegert, Mathias Mahn, Matthias Prigge, Yoav Printz, Ofer Yizhar
Silencing Neurons: Tools, Applications, and Experimental Constraints
published pages: 504-529, ISSN: 0896-6273, DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2017.06.050
Neuron 95/3 2019-05-27

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