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2013-Synaptic Stress

Synaptic stress and pathogenesis of neuropsychiatric disorders

24-30 March 2013, Bertinoro, Italy
Scientific organizers: Maurizio Popoli (University of Milano, Italy) and Gerard Sanacora (Yale University, U.S.A.)
Local organizer: Kathy-Ann Koralek, Verona, Italy

The impact of different behavioral stressors on cognitive/affective functions may vary depending on genetic background and on type, intensity, and timing of stress. The outcome of stress may range from plasticity enhancing effects, associated with improved cognition, to noxious effects, associated with impaired function or triggering of neuropsychiatric disorders.

Recent lines of evidence have shown that changes in glutamate/GABA synapses, and related pathways, are central to the effects of stress and may determine whether adaptive or maladaptive plasticity is elicited in the stress response. Similar or related mechanisms have also been shown to be affected by psychiatric drugs. As often observed in pathophysiology, it can be envisaged that a continuum exists between physiological mechanisms of plasticity and more robust changes in structure and function, leading to pathological changes.

In this field, recent findings obtained by different and complementary methodologies, including cutting-edge live imaging techniques, electrophysiology, glutamate release from isolated live synaptic terminals, development of transgenics and animal models, new behavioral methods, and others, have shed new light on the mechanisms mediating the effects of stress on cognitive and affective functions.

The aim of the School was to gather scientists involved in recent developments on the impact of behavioral stress and glucocorticoids on glutamate synapses, transmission and plasticity, to illustrate different methods and findings, and discuss how the molecular/cellular/functional effects of stress may trigger or precipitate neuropsychiatric disorders such as depression, schizophrenia, anxiety, PTSD.

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