A formal invitation to join the Snyder lab

dentate gyrus neuronsMy UBC Psychology page and Neuroscience links are up. Grad school application deadlines are approaching. I think it’s time to formally advertise that…


The lab’s goal is to identify the role of adult neurogenesis in memory and stress-related behaviours. We inhibit neurogenesis with transgenic animals in order to understand how they contribute to these behaviours, viral tools for labelling and modifying neurons, immunohistochemistry to quantify and characterize the neurogenesis process, and in vitro electrophysiology to understand the circuit mechanisms by which these new neurons regulate behaviour. The neurobiology of behaviour extends far beyond adult neurogenesis, however, and so we are also generally interested in how neurons throughout the dentate gyrus, hippocampus, and related structures interact to guide behaviour.

I’m excited about the science but I’m also excited about doing it in the open. Discoveries exist well before they’re printed in a journal but in most cases people don’t appreciate this, since discoveries are rarely shared as they happen. I’d like to do things a little differently and get our science out in the open. Early. To assist others and stimulate discussion. I’d like to see undergrads in my lab have have their data available online in a citable format. You don’t need a peer-reviewed publication or a graduate degree to contribute something valuable to the scientific record (and perhaps your CV).

If this sounds like the bomb:

Potential postdocs can email me (jasonsnyder@psych.ubc.ca) directly to inquire about joining the lab. External funding deadlines are approaching and would go a looong way at this point.

Potential graduate students can contact me and apply through the Psychology or Neuroscience programs. Deadlines for a September 2013 start date are December 15 and January 30, respectively. There is also a June/July deadline for starting Neuroscience graduate studies in January 2014.

Potential undergraduates that are interested can email me directly. Previous lab experience is not a prerequisite to join the lab!

The lab will officially open in January 2013 and, after setting up, will be ready for real business around summertime. Oh, and I will be at the Society for Neuroscience meeting if interested folks would like to chat in person.

Everything you always wanted to know about neurogenesis timecourses (but were afraid to ask)

Most studies of adult neurogenesis are concerned with neuronal age. Or at least they should be. This is because new neurons develop from a stage where they have no excitatory synapses to one where they have many. If we assume the traditional view that information is stored at excitatory synaptic connections, then young neurons are initially useless and only become physiologically and behaviorally meaningful when they have matured to a point where they can relay and process information. It is therefore critical that the developmental timecourse of new neurons be mapped out, so we know when new neurons become functionally relevant, or whether they might even have different functions at different ages.

Below are what I hope to be comprehensive visual collages of all published timecourse experiments, where a certain property of new neurons is examined at multiple (≥ 3) different ages. They are grouped by studies of: 1) cell survival, 2) marker expression, 3) functionality, and 4) miscellaneous studies that do not quite fit into the first 3 categories. I’ve ordered the data roughly chronologically and have included the first author’s name and publication year so you can read deeper, if needed. Indeed, if you know these studies already, a brief look at the graphs will bring back the take home message. However, since the data is stripped of text, if the studies are unfamiliar, you’ll have to go to the original source to figure out what the heck they mean (use Pubmed to at least obtain abstracts for the original studies if I didn’t provide a direct link).

Personally, I like timecourse studies for the same reason I like to have all my music albums or books visible at the same time: at a single glance they provide a lot of information – each individual stage of maturation can be interpreted within a bigger picture. The result of these many hours of work will either be a) that the purpose of adult neurogenesis will become immediately clear, or b) that we’ll all have some fancy collages to pin on our bulletin boards and look intelligent.

The survival timecourse

addition of new neurons

New neurons are born and then many die. The survival timecourse answers the questions: How many new neurons are born? Where are they born and where do they end up, anatomically? How many of them survive and can their survival be altered? Survival timecourses are typically performed by injecting animals with a mitotic marker that will label new neurons as they’re being born, e.g. ³H-thymidine (old school), BrdU (tried and true – example), or a GFP-expressing retrovirus (new school). At a later date one can then detect these birthdated new neurons and count them, see where they’re located etc.

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