Amin Shakhawat, Ph.D.

Stanford University

Amin Shakhawat completed his doctoral research at Memorial University of Newfoundland in Canada under the supervision of Qi Yuan. His doctoral work demonstrated how the locus coeruleus, the major noradrenergic nucleus of the brain, facilitates reward-related odor engram formation in the olfactory bulb and in the piriform cortex. For this project, he employed a molecular imaging technique called Arc catFISH that captures the activity patterns of hundreds of neurons at two different time points. Using this technique, he studied the neural dynamics of a rewarded odor engram in the olfactory system in both 5-6-day-old rat pups and adult rats. Shakhawat’s postdoctoral research at Stanford focuses on elucidating the algorithm that a neural circuit uses to determine which synapses, among a sea of recently active synapses, should be modified to implement learning.

Principal Investigator: Jennifer Raymond

Fellow: Jackie Foltz

Project
This project investigates how distributed plasticity in the cerebellum and related oculomotor circuitry during motor learning alters the way the circuit computes. The SURF fellow will have the opportunity to utilize optogenetic perturbation of a synaptic plasticity mechanism combined with targeted optogenetic stimulation in vivo to dissect the algorithm governing the distribution of plasticity across sites in the circuit. The selected candidate will receive extensive training to contribute to this project by collecting and analyzing data, designing follow-up experiments and presenting research findings to multiple scientific communities. 

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