Steven Connor

PhD (University of Alberta)
E–mail: saconnor@yorku.ca

My lab is committed to exploring synaptic function and plasticity in brain circuitry associated with higher-order cognitive processes, including learning and memory. We use a combination of genetic, electrophysiology, molecular biology and behavioral approaches to investigate synapses in the context of plasticity and brain disease. The lab’s overall goal is to understand mechanisms that support changes in synapses and how pathological adaptations in these processes contribute to neuropsychiatric disorders, including autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

We are currently focused on two main projects: Our first project uses a cellular model of memory formation known as long-term potentiation (LTP) to study how neurons (brain cells) selectively remove information stored in neural networks, a process commonly known as “forgetting”. By studying how LTP “decays” we gain crucial insights into the largely unknown molecular mechanisms that govern information removal from brain circuits.

Our second project is focused on determining the contribution of synapse organizers, proteins that help coordinate synapse development and properties, to altered synaptic plasticity in mouse models of autism. Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by social, cognitive and behavioral impairments which affects more than 100 million people world-wide. Based on these discoveries, we are developing novel neurotherapeutic approaches designed to reverse deficits in molecular processes that underlie impaired synaptic plasticity observed in people with autism. This approach allows us to tailor the therapeutic strategy to the specific molecular deficits of this disorder. Our long-term goal is to translate these findings to clinical interventions that restore function and bolster the quality of life for those with neuropsychiatric disorders.

We are a new lab and are currently recruiting our first crop of trainees. Contact that lab via email at: saconnor@yorku.ca.