Santamaria Lab

One UTSA circle, Department of Biology, University of Texas at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX 78458 Phone: +1 (210) 458-6910










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Power-laws in neuronal systems

A sample of how we visualize two-photon images of Purkinje cells and Monte Carlo simulations of LTD. Click image to enlarge.

What is the characteristic time constant for neuronal function? This question is asked at all scales of interest in neurobiology, from molecules moving on the membrane of neurons to social interactions. The current model to analyze such processes assumes that a complex behavior, a bird singing, a neuron generating an action potential, can be broken down into processes, each one described with a single fixed time constant. However, increasing evidence shows otherwise. A neuronal process, such as spike time adaptation, shows that neurons follow a very different process described with power-laws. In a power-law there are no fundamental time constant, in fact, they are assumed to change with time! How does this affect neuronal computation? How can we use this to better process information? What are the evolutionary pressures that cause such behavior? What is the biophysical substrate of such algorithms? My laboratory aims to tackle these questions focusing on cellular and sub-cellular processes using computational, theoretical, and experimental tools.  However, our work has found applications from explaining the movement of glutamate receptors in and out of a synapse to studying EEG in humans.