Course overview

Synapses are sites of information transfer and storage in the brain. These specialised structures integrate complex signals and undergo functional changes that underlie the formation of memories. Synaptic dysfunction is associated with early stages of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, and underlies neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism spectrum disorders and intellectual disability.

Studying synapse function and plasticity is key to understanding brain circuits that underlie behaviour, and to identify synaptic malfunction mechanisms underpinning brain diseases. This course will allow students to integrate theoretical and methodological concepts on synapse biology with hands-on experience on state-of-the art imaging, functional and computational methodologies. The course provides an in-depth understanding to many concepts such as synapse formation and maintenance, pre- and postsynaptic mechanisms, structural and functional synaptic plasticity, synaptic integration in neuronal networks and synaptopathies. Hands-on experimental projects conducted in small groups with the support of senior scientists will expose the students to methodologies at the forefront of research in this field.

Course directors

Ana Luisa Carvalho

Course Director

Coimbra University, Portugal

Mathieu Letellier

Course Director

Bordeaux University, Portugal

Hey-Kyoung Lee

Course Director

John Hopkins University., US

Keynote Speakers & Instructors

The final list of speakers and instructors is not available yet.

Course content

The last decades have brought enormous advances in the methodologies used to study synapses, which endow researchers with the possibility to bridge from molecular analyses of synapses to cellular, circuits and behaviour approaches to tackle central questions about how the brain works.

This course provides the opportunity to learn from experts in the field about questions at the forefront of synapse biology, and to obtain hands-on experience on innovative techniques to study synapses. These include gene transfer, live imaging of proteins and signalling molecules (including in vivo 2-photon microscopy), super resolution microscopy for cellular imaging of proteins at excitatory and inhibitory synapses, electrophysiology, fiber photometry, optogenetics, animal behaviour and computational methods.

Finally, emphasis will be put on studies that address causal relationships in synapse function. Human, rodent, and invertebrate models systems such as Drosophila melanogaster will be used.

Bordeaux School of Neuroscience, France

The Bordeaux School of Neuroscience is part of Bordeaux Neurocampus, the Neuroscience Department of the University of Bordeaux. Christophe Mulle, its current director, founded it in 2015. Throughout the year, renowned scientists, promising young researchers and many students from any geographical horizon come to the School.
The school works on this principle: training in neuroscience research through experimental practice, within the framework of a real research laboratory.

Their dedicated laboratory (500m2), available for about 20 trainees, is equipped with a wet lab, an in vitro and in vivo electrophysiology room, IT facilities, a standard cellular imaging room, an animal facility equipped for behavior studies and surgery and catering/meeting spaces. They also have access to high-level core facilities within the University of Bordeaux. They offer their services to international training teams who wish to organize courses in all fields of neuroscience thanks to a dedicated staff for the full logistics (travels, accommodation, on-site catering, social events) and administration and 2 scientific managers in support of the experimentation.


Fee : 3.950 € (includes tuition fee, accommodation and meals)

Application are not opened yet

The CAJAL programme offers 4 stipends per course (waived registration fee, not including travel expenses). Please apply through the course online application form. In order to identify candidates in real need of a stipend, any grant applicant is encouraged to first request funds from their lab, institution or government.

Kindly note that if you benefited from a Cajal stipend in the past, you are no longer eligible to receive this kind of funding. However other types of funding (such as partial travel grants from sponsors) might be made available after the participants selection pro- cess, depending on the course.