Laboratory of Neural Development and Plasticity
at University of Virginia




Alev Erisir, MD PhD

Professor of Psychology

Director, Neuroscience Undergraduate Major




Postnatal development of the brain is characterized by a plastic stage during which abnormal sensory stimulation can lead to life-long changes in the organization of visual cortex. 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 a critical period? What are the mechanisms by which the critical period of developmental plasticity is initiated, and terminated? Is there a change in the neurotransmitter receptor function in the visual cortex that can signal the onset or the offset of this period? Using anatomical techniques including immuno-electron microscopy, tract-tracing and confocal microscopy, we aim to reveal the changes that occur in visual system connectivity and glutamate receptor localization during and after the critical period of visual plasticity.

Ongoing Projects: 1. The effects of dark rearing and the recovery from deprivation on activity dependent processes in visual cortex. Thalamocortical axon development, GABAergic circuitry activated by primary sensory inputs, and NMDAR subunit localization are among the factors that we examine.

2. The development of sensory primary input axons and glutamate receptors in visual and gustatory pathways.



Our lab is accepting graduate students from Neuroscience & Behavior Area in Department of Psychology and Neuroscience Graduate Program in University of Virginia.


Undergraduate research possibilities are often available. Please contact our lab several months before you wish to start.