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Professor Cliff Abraham

Cliff AbrahamProfessor Cliff Abraham has played a leading role in promoting neuroscience research and teaching at the university. In 1997, he was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand, and in 2007 he was awarded a Royal Society of New Zealand James Cook Fellowship. He chaired the Australasian Winter Conference on Brain Research, New Zealand’s annual neuroscience meeting for 12 years. He is the Otago-based Co-Director of Brain Research New Zealand, a national centre for research excellence.

Professor Abraham is interested in the neural mechanisms of memory and the rules and mechanisms governing synaptic plasticity and memory formation in the brain. His particular focus is on the cellular and molecular events in the hippocampus, a brain structure important for certain kinds of learning and memory. His lab has expertise in electrophysiological, behavioural and immunofluorescent microscopy approaches to studying the mechanisms mediating the induction and persistence of synaptic plasticity in vivo and in vitro, and their relevance to memory.

One of the most likely neural mechanisms mediating memory storage is long-lasting plasticity in the strength of synaptic transmission between neurons. This plasticity includes long-term potentiation (LTP) and long-term depression (LTD) of synaptic efficacy. In collaboration with Professor Warren Tate and Dr Joanna Williams, he is studying the cellular and molecular mechanisms of LTP and LTD in the hippocampus. His investigations of the molecular mechanisms of synaptic plasticity have focused on the roles that gene expression and changes in synaptic proteins, such as glutamate receptors, play in the maintenance of LTP and LTD across time. A further major focus is the mechanisms by which prior neural activity controls the subsequent induction of synaptic plasticity, a set of phenomena he has termed “metaplasticity”.

Professor Abraham also has growing interest in the mechanisms of plasticity disruption in neurological disorders characterized by memory deficits, such as Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia. The work on Alzheimer’s focuses on neuroprotective molecules such as secreted amyloid precursor protein-alpha and agmatine. In a related project, he is involved in research aimed at identifying blood biomarkers of Alzheimer’s to help with early diagnosis of the disease

His work is highly collaborative, with partners based locally, nationally and internationally, and he is funded by the New Zealand Health Research and Marsden Councils.

Find out more about Professor Abraham’s research.

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Publications

Abraham, W. C. (2008). Metaplasticity: Tuning synapses and networks for plasticity. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 9(5), 387-399.

Hulme, S. R., Jones, O. D., & Abraham, W. C. (2013). Emerging roles of metaplasticity in behaviour and disease. Trends in Neurosciences, 36(6), 353-362. doi: 10.1016/j.tins.2013.03.007

Mockett, B. G., Guévremont, D., Wutte, M., Hulme, S. R., Williams, J. M., & Abraham, W. C. (2011). Calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II mediates Group I metabotropic glutamate receptor-dependent protein synthesis and long-term depression in rat hippocampus. Journal of Neuroscience, 31(20), 7380-7391. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.6656-10.2011

Mockett, B. G., Guévremont, D., Williams, J. M., & Abraham, W. C. (2007). Dopamine D1/D5 receptor activation reverses NMDA receptor-dependent long-term depression in rat hippocampus. Journal of Neuroscience, 27(11), 2918-2926. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0838-06.2007

Williams, J. M., Guévremont, D., Mason-Parker, S. E., Luxmanan, C., Tate, W. P., & Abraham, W. C. (2007). Differential trafficking of AMPA and NMDA receptors during long-term potentiation in awake adult animals. Journal of Neuroscience, 27(51), 14171-14178.

Journal - Research Article

Eckert, M. J., Guévremont, D., Williams, J. M., & Abraham, W. C. (2013). Rapid visual stimulation increases extrasynaptic glutamate receptor expression but not visual-evoked potentials in the adult rat primary visual cortex. European Journal of Neuroscience, 37(3), 400-406. doi: 10.1111/ejn.12053

Hulme, S. R., Jones, O. D., & Abraham, W. C. (2013). Emerging roles of metaplasticity in behaviour and disease. Trends in Neurosciences, 36(6), 353-362. doi: 10.1016/j.tins.2013.03.007

Bowden, J. B., Abraham, W. C., & Harris, K. M. (2012). Differential effects of strain, circadian cycle, and stimulation pattern on LTP and concurrent LTD in the dentate gyrus of freely moving rats. Hippocampus, 22(6), 1363-1370. doi: 10.1002/hipo.20972

Ryan, M. M., Ryan, B., Kyrke-Smith, M., Logan, B., Tate, W. P., Abraham, W. C., & Williams, J. M. (2012). Temporal profiling of gene networks associated with the late phase of long-term potentiation in vivo. PLoS ONE, 7(7), e40538. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0040538

Kameda, M., Taylor, C. J., Walker, T. L., Black, D. M., Abraham, W. C., & Bartlett, P. F. (2012). Activation of latent precursors in the hippocampus is dependent on long-term potentiation. Translational Psychiatry, 2, e72. doi: 10.1038/tp.2011.70

Baratchi, S., Evans, J., Tate, W. P., Abraham, W. C., & Connor, B. (2012). Secreted amyloid precursor proteins promote proliferation and glial differentiation of adult hippocampal neural progenitor cells. Hippocampus, 22(7), 1517-1527. doi: 10.1002/hipo.20988

Mockett, B. G., Guévremont, D., Wutte, M., Hulme, S. R., Williams, J. M., & Abraham, W. C. (2011). Calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II mediates Group I metabotropic glutamate receptor-dependent protein synthesis and long-term depression in rat hippocampus. Journal of Neuroscience, 31(20), 7380-7391. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.6656-10.2011

Ryan, M. M., Mason-Parker, S. E., Tate, W. P., Abraham, W. C., & Williams, J. M. (2011). Rapidly induced gene networks following induction of long-term potentiation at perforant path synapses in vivo. Hippocampus, 21(5), 541-553. doi: 10.1002/hipo.20770

Tenorio, G., Connor, S. A., Guévremont, D., Abraham, W. C., Williams, J., O'Dell, T. J., & Nguyen, P. V. (2010). 'Silent' priming of translation-dependent LTP by β-adrenergic receptors involves phosphorylation and recruitment of AMPA receptors. Learning & Memory, 17(12), 627-638. doi: 10.1101/lm.1974510

Eckert, M. J., & Abraham, W. C. (2010). Physiological effects of enriched environment exposure and LTP induction in the hippocampus in vivo do not transfer faithfully to in vitro slices. Learning & Memory, 17(10), 480-484. doi: 10.1101/lm.1822610

Eckert, M. J., Bilkey, D. K., & Abraham, W. C. (2010). Altered plasticity in hippocampal CA1, but not dentate gyrus, following long-term environmental enrichment. Journal of Neurophysiology, 103(6), 3320-3329. doi: 10.1152/jn.01037.2009

Kennard, J. T. T., Guévremont, D., Mason-Parker, S. E., Abraham, W. C., & Williams, J. M. (2009). Increased expression, but not postsynaptic localisation, of ionotropic glutamate receptors during the late-phase of long-term potentiation in the dentate gyrus in vivo. Neuropharmacology, 56(1), 66-72. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropharm.2008.07.044

Ireland, D. R., & Abraham, W. C. (2009). Mechanisms of group I mGluR-dependent long-term depression of NMDA receptor-mediated transmission at Schaffer collateral-CA1 synapses. Journal of Neurophysiology, 101(3), 1375-1385. doi: 10.1152/jn.90643.2008

Sajikumar, S., Li, Q., Abraham, W. C., & Xiao, Z. C. (2009). Priming of short-term potentiation and synaptic tagging/capture mechanisms by ryanodine receptor activation in rat hippocampal CA1. Learning & Memory, 16(3), 178-186. doi: 10.1101/lm.1255909

Taylor, C. J., Ireland, D. R., Ballagh, I., Bourne, K., Marechal, N. M., Turner, P. R., Bilkey, D. K., Tate, W. P., & Abraham, W. C. (2008). Endogenous secreted amyloid precursor protein-α regulates hippocampal NMDA receptor function, long-term potentiation and spatial memory. Neurobiology of Disease, 31(2), 250-260. doi: 10.1016/j.nbd.2008.04.011

Abraham, W. C., & Williams, J. M. (2008). LTP maintenance and its protein synthesis-dependence. Neurobiology of Learning & Memory, 89(3), 260-268. doi: 10.1016/j.nlm.2007.10.001

Abraham, W. C. (2008). Metaplasticity: Tuning synapses and networks for plasticity. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 9(5), 387-399.

Mellentin, C., Jahnsen, H., & Abraham, W. C. (2007). Priming of long-term potentiation mediated by ryanodine receptor activation in rat hippocampal slices. Neuropharmacology, 52, 118-125.

Mockett, B. G., Guévremont, D., Williams, J. M., & Abraham, W. C. (2007). Dopamine D1/D5 receptor activation reverses NMDA receptor-dependent long-term depression in rat hippocampus. Journal of Neuroscience, 27(11), 2918-2926. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0838-06.2007

Williams, J. M., Guévremont, D., Mason-Parker, S. E., Luxmanan, C., Tate, W. P., & Abraham, W. C. (2007). Differential trafficking of AMPA and NMDA receptors during long-term potentiation in awake adult animals. Journal of Neuroscience, 27(51), 14171-14178.

Abraham, W. C., Logan, B., Wolff, A., & Benuskova, L. (2007). ″Heterosynaptic″ LTD in the dentate gyrus of anesthetized rat requires homosynaptic activity. Journal of Neurophysiology, 98(2), 1048-1051. doi: 10.1152/jn.00250.2007

Benuskova, L., & Abraham, W. C. (2007). STDP rule endowed with the BCM sliding threshold accounts for hippocampal heterosynaptic plasticity. Journal of Computational Neuroscience, 22(2), 129-133. doi: 10.1007/s10827-006-0002-x

Abraham, W. C. (2006). Memory Maintenance: The changing nature of neural mechanisms. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 15(1), 5-8.

Irvine, G. I., Logan, B., Eckert, M., & Abraham, W. C. (2006). Enriched environment exposure regulates excitability, synaptic transmission, and LTP in the dentate gyrus of freely moving rats. Hippocampus, 16(2), 149-160. doi: 10.1002/hipo.20142

Abraham, W. C., Mason-Parker, S. E., Irvine, G. I., Logan, B., & Gill, A. I. (2006). Induction and activity-dependent reversal of persistent LTP and LTD in lateral perforant path synapses in vivo. Neurobiology of Learning & Memory, 86, 82-90.

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