Experiences are imprinted into synaptic connections during postnatal development. This experience-dependent synaptic wiring appears to develop on the background of genetically-determined connectivity patterns.

We aim to understand the gene x environment interactions that control the synaptic wiring of new neurons in the developing brain. As a model system, we study the olfactory system. Among our senses, olfactory inputs have the most direct access to the limbic system and evoke innate and learned behaviors with lasting aversive and appetitive memories. The olfactory system maintains stem cell niches providing a source for continuous addition of new neurons to adult brain circuits. The synaptic wiring of adult-born neurons is shaped both by genetic determination at stem cell stage and an experience-dependent period.

In parallel, we study the postnatal developmental trajectory of the dopaminergic system with similar aims to dissect genetic and environmental influences on mature circuit properties. These limbic circuits modulate the integration and processing of olfactory information and give rise to sensory-guided behaviors.

We hope to contribute to a better understanding of gene x environment interactions in synaptic wiring that provides the neuronal basis for the formation of imprints that may give rise to variations in our individual behaviors.