June 16, 2010
School of Biotechnology, Amritapuri
Why is the cerebellum an important part of our brain?
“For various reasons,” stated Sathyaa Subramaniyam, MSc (Bioinformatics) student at the Amrita School of Biotechnology.
“It was long known that the cerebellum played a critical role in sensory-motor control. Latest research indicates that in addition, it probably also contributes to higher cognitive functions.”
Sathyaa should know. Her MSc dissertation titled Synaptic Inhibition and Cerebellar Granular Layer Network, was recently completed under the guidance of Dr. Shyam Diwakar at Amrita. Sathyaa will now travel to the University of Pavia, Italy for working on her doctoral thesis.
At Pavia, Sathyaa will work with Prof. Egidio D’Angelo, Director of the Italian Brain Connectivity Centre at the University.
“Sathyaa was awarded a Ph.D. scholarship funded by the European Union,” proudly stated her guide, Dr. Shyam. “She was chosen for this scholarship after a video-interview.”
A top achiever at the Amrita School of Biotechnology, Sathyaa is looking forward to beginning her doctoral research work. She will computationally model and study the cerebellum in order to better understand its functions and properties.
“The project will focus on plasticity in the cerebellar network,” she added.
Plasticity in the cerebellar network?
As one learns and acquires new knowledge, there are thought to be corresponding changes in the brain. Plasticity, or more specifically neuroplasticity, refers to the lifelong ability of the brain to reorganize neural pathways based on new experiences and knowledge.
For her MSc dissertation, Satyaa successfully built a cerebellar granular layer circuit to study the plasticity of the cerebellar network.
Her research paper titled Modeling Spatio-Temporal Processing in Cerebellar Granular Layer and Effects of Controlled Inhibition on Plasticity was recently accepted for publication.
“Plasticity plays a critical role in determining computational properties of the circuit,” Satyaa elaborated further. “I will investigate processes involving the granular layer, the molecular layer and the deep cerebellar nuclei and study linkages between all of these.”
A quiet university town, Pavia is located in Lombardy, in Northern Italy. Sathyaa will arrive at the one of the oldest universities in the world, the University of Pavia, in early fall this year. We wish her all the best!