LTP or LTD: Andrea Moreno, DANDRITE

"The image is a watercolour and ink painting, A4 size. I love drawing and I like to combine that with my love for science, which sometimes gives some interesting and unexpected outputs! The drawing represents a synapse between two neurons (presynaptic side on the right with vesicles fusing to the membrane and releasing neurotransmitter molecules to the synaptic cleft, postsynaptic side to the left with a darkened postsynaptic density region).The reaching hands symbolize the moment in which two possibilities are present: holding or releasing; or in synaptic terms, the possibility that this synaptic connection is strengthened or weakened depending on the neurons’ activity.

"In my project, I am studying the mechanisms of natural forgetting in the context of learning and memory, with an emphasis on relating these processes to long term potentiation (LTP) and depression (LTD) of synaptic strength. It is well established that the strengthening of synaptic connections is related to memory formation, however very little is known about forgetting.

"I was inspired by the concept of the reaching hands from “The creation of Adam” by Michelangelo, and by the canonical representation of a synapse (although I allowed myself some artistic licenses to simplify the idea)."