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Neuroscience Graduate Program at UCSF

Faculty - Kevin Bender, Ph.D.

Mechanisms and Function of Neuromodulation

Research Description

Neurons are finely tuned to extract computationally relevant features from synaptic inputs. This process is influenced heavily by neuromodulators, which can transiently retune neuronal processing by altering the properties of the membrane receptors and channels involved in synaptic transmission and cell excitability. Drugs of abuse disrupt neuromodulator signaling, ultimately producing long-lasting changes in the neuronal circuits that underlie addiction establishment, expression, and relapse.

Our lab is interested in understanding the mechanisms by which neuromodulators control excitability and synaptic integration, and how the dysfunctions in these mechanisms contribute to addiction. We employ a variety of electrophysiological, optical, and genetic techniques to probe how these neurotransmitters alter information processing in various neuronal compartments, from synaptic inputs onto dendritic spines, to transmitter release in axonal boutons. We hope that learning more about these mechanisms will lead to new targets for the treatment of addiction.

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Current Projects

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Lab Members

Ken Burke, Graduate Student, kenneth.burke@ucsf.edu

Rebecca Clarkson, Graduate Student, rebecca.clarkson@ucsf.edu

Alayna Liptak, Staff Research Associate, alayna.liptak@ucsf.edu

Gina Rinetti Vargas, Postdoctoral Fellow, gina.vargas@ucsf.edu

Sungchil Yang, Postdoctoral Fellow, sungchil.yang@ucsf.edu

Selected Publications

Fink AE, Bender KJ, Trussell LO, Otis TS, DiGregorio DA. PLoS One. 2012;7(8):e41434. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0041434. Epub 2012 Aug 3.

Bender KJ, Trussell LO.  Annu Rev Neurosci. 2012;35:249-65. doi: 10.1146/annurev-neuro-062111-150339. Epub 2012 Mar 20. Review.

Grubb MS, Shu Y, Kuba H, Rasband MN, Wimmer VC, Bender KJ.  J Neurosci. 2011 Nov 9;31(45):16049-55. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4064-11.2011. Review.

Bender KJ, Trussell LO. Synaptic plasticity in inhibitory neurons of the auditory brainstem. Neuropharmacology. 2011 Apr; 60:774-779. 

Bender KJ, Ford CP, Trussell LO. Dopaminergic modulation of axon initial segment calcium channels regulates action potential initiation. Neuron. 2010 Nov 4; 68:500-511.

Li L*, Bender KJ*, Drew PJ, Jadhav, SP, Sylwestrak E, Feldman DE. Endocannabinoid signaling is required for development and critical period plasticity of the whisker map in somatosensory cortex.  Neuron. 2009 Nov 25; 24:537-549.

Blackmer T, Kuo SP*, Bender KJ*, Apostolides PF*, Trussell LO. Dendritic calcium channels and their activation by synaptic signals in auditory coincidence detector neurons. J Neurophysiol. 2009  102:1218-1226.

Bender KJ, Trussell LO. Axon initial segment calcium channels influence action potential generation and timing. Neuron. 2009 Jan 29; 61:259-271. 

Roberts MT, Bender KJ, Trussell LO. Fidelity of complex spike-mediated synaptic transmission between inhibitory interneurons.  J Neurosci. 2008 Sep 17; 28: 9440-9450.

Bender VA, Bender KJ, Brasier DJ, Feldman DE.  Two coincidence detectors for STDP in somatosensory cortex.  J Neurosci. 2006 Apr 19; 26: 4166-4177. 

Bender KJ*, Allen CB*, Bender VA, Feldman DE. Synaptic basis for whisker deprivation-induced synaptic depression in rat somatosensory cortex.  J Neurosci. 2006 Apr 19; 26 (16): 4155-4165. 

Bender KJ, Rangel J, Feldman DE. Development of columnar topography in the excitatory layer 4 to layer 2/3 projection in rat barrel cortex.  J Neurosci. 2003 Sep 24; 23:8759-8770. 
* equal author contribution

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Kevin Bender, Ph.D.





Office Address

UCSF MC 0444
675 Nelson Rising Lane, Room 514A
San Francisco, CA 94158

Other Websites

Center for Integrative Neuroscience