Alev Erisir


  • MD, Istanbul University
  • PhD, SUNY at Stony Brook
  • Postdoc, New York University
  • Postdoc, New York Medical College

Primary Appointment

  • Associate Professor, Psychology


Research Interest(s)

Developmental Plasticity and Neuropathology of Synaptic Circuitries.

Research Description

We are interested in the development and plasticity of visual system. Our present research is concentrated on an early neonatal period in life, before the visual cortex attains its mature structure and function, that is, before lifelong connections among neurons are formed, and adult-type molecular signatures of different circuitries are established. During this period, the brain maintains a remarkable malleability to changes in the environment, such as lack of light, or lack of balanced stimulation through both eyes. By studying the molecules that are in function during this period, we aim to understand plasticity, that is what allows the brain to change, adapt, learn or resist to change in response to alterations in our environment. In particular, we are interested in the changing patterns of glutamate and GABA receptor localization in cells that receive monosynaptic input from developing thalamocortical cells, during, before and after the critical period for ocular dominance formation. We use the techniques, including tract-tracing and immunocytochemisty, to examine temporal sequence of neurotransmitter receptor localization at light and electron microscope resolutions.

UNLEASH (Undergraduate Research)

Postnatal development of the brain is characterized by plastic stages during which abnormal sensory stimulation can lead to life-long changes in the organization of brain circuitry. Our lab aims to understand the biological mechanisms that enable this plasticity. What makes some young neurons lose their ability to respond to alterations in the sensory environment at the end of critical periods? What are the mechanisms by which sensitive periods of plasticity are initiated and terminated? What are the molecular and cellular players in processes that enable long-term structural changes in brain synaptic circuitry? Using anatomical techniques including immuno-electron microscopy, serial EM reconstructions, tract-tracing and confocal microscopy, we aim to reveal the changes that occur in visual and gustatory system connectivity, neurotransmitter receptor and other pre/postsynaptic protein localizations during and after sensitive periods of plasticity, and during the aging process of these model systems. Upon joining the lab, RAs are assigned to an ongoing project. At the initial stages of the training, RAs learn tissue preparation techniques, light and electron microscope use, 3D reconstructions using connectomics approaches and digital image analysis. Typically after several months of active contribution, RAs start formulating a project that they may use as their Distinguished Major thesis. Attending our regular lab meetings is also recommended. At least two semesters of commitment is required. Contact: Prof. Erisir

Selected Publications

  • Lillard A, Erisir A. Old Dogs Learning New Tricks: Neuroplasticity Beyond the Juvenile Period. Developmental review : DR. 2014;31(4): 207-239. PMID: 24648605 | PMCID: PMC3956134
  • Corson J, Erisir A. Monosynaptic convergence of chorda tympani and glossopharyngeal afferents onto ascending relay neurons in the nucleus of the solitary tract: a high-resolution confocal and correlative electron microscopy approach. The Journal of comparative neurology. 2013;521(13): 2907-26. PMID: 23640852 | PMCID: PMC3953562
  • Holloway B, Stornetta R, Bochorishvili G, Erisir A, Viar K, Guyenet P. Monosynaptic glutamatergic activation of locus coeruleus and other lower brainstem noradrenergic neurons by the C1 cells in mice. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience. 2013;33(48): 18792-805. PMID: 24285886 | PMCID: PMC3841449
  • Rose K, Lunardi N, Boscolo A, Dong X, Erisir A, Jevtovic-Todorovic V, Todorovic S. Immunohistological demonstration of CaV3.2 T-type voltage-gated calcium channel expression in soma of dorsal root ganglion neurons and peripheral axons of rat and mouse. Neuroscience. 2013;250 263-74. PMID: 23867767 | PMCID: PMC3796369
  • Sun C, Sun J, Erisir A, Kapur J. Loss of cholecystokinin-containing terminals in temporal lobe epilepsy. Neurobiology of disease. 2013;62 44-55. PMID: 24051276 | PMCID: PMC3877730
  • Wang S, Corson J, Hill D, Erisir A. Postnatal development of chorda tympani axons in the rat nucleus of the solitary tract. The Journal of comparative neurology. 2012;520(14): 3217-35. PMID: 22430892 | PMCID: PMC3418376
  • Corson J, Aldridge A, Wilmoth K, Erisir A. A survey of oral cavity afferents to the rat nucleus tractus solitarii. The Journal of comparative neurology. 2011;520(3): 495-527. PMID: 21800298 | PMCID: PMC3371193
  • Li J, Erisir A, Cline H. In vivo time-lapse imaging and serial section electron microscopy reveal developmental synaptic rearrangements. Neuron. 2011;69(2): 273-86. PMID: 21262466 | PMCID: PMC3052740
  • Coleman J, Nahmani M, Gavornik J, Haslinger R, Heynen A, Erisir A, Bear M. Rapid structural remodeling of thalamocortical synapses parallels experience-dependent functional plasticity in mouse primary visual cortex. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience. 2010;30(29): 9670-82. PMID: 20660250 | PMCID: PMC3065324
  • Corson J, Nahmani M, Lubarsky K, Badr N, Wright C, Erisir A. Sensory activity differentially modulates N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor subunits 2A and 2B in cortical layers. Neuroscience. 2009;163(3): 920-32. PMID: 19596055 | PMCID: PMC2746878
  • Lunardi N, Ori C, Erisir A, Jevtovic-Todorovic V. General anesthesia causes long-lasting disturbances in the ultrastructural properties of developing synapses in young rats. Neurotoxicity research. 2009;17(2): 179-88. PMID: 19626389 | PMCID: PMC3629551
  • Corlew R, Wang Y, Ghermazien H, Erisir A, Philpot B. Developmental switch in the contribution of presynaptic and postsynaptic NMDA receptors to long-term depression. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience. 2007;27(37): 9835-45. PMID: 17855598 | PMCID: PMC2905826
  • May O, Erisir A, Hill D. Ultrastructure of primary afferent terminals and synapses in the rat nucleus of the solitary tract: comparison among the greater superficial petrosal, chorda tympani, and glossopharyngeal nerves. The Journal of comparative neurology. 2007;502(6): 1066-78. PMID: 17444498 | PMCID: PMC2798003
  • Kielland A, Erisir A, Walaas S, Heggelund P. Synapsin utilization differs among functional classes of synapses on thalamocortical cells. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience. 2006;26(21): 5786-93. PMID: 16723536