Tanya Sharpee

Computational Neurobiology Laboratory
Salk Institute for Biological Studies
Tatyana Sharpee’s lab seeks to understand how the brain and other biological systems work while their components are constantly changing. For example, when a baby is growing, new neurons are added to circuits. During adulthood, connections between neurons are constantly added and removed as we learn new skills and information. As we age, we begin to lose some functionality of these connections. Despite these changes, we maintain a constant sense of self and can remember events for decades. Even within individual neurons, proteins are constantly updated, yet the right balance is achieved to ensure appropriate signaling by them. Nevertheless, we maintain the same sense of “self” and can remember events for decades. Further exacerbating the problem, the environment in which the brain operates is constantly changing, so Sharpee and colleagues are working to understand optimal signals that the brain should pay attention to in the environment, and to understand optimal prescriptions for adaptation to changes in the environment.