Lorene M. Lanier, PhD

Associate Professor, Department of Neuroscience

Lorene M. Lanier

Contact Info


Office Address:
4-140 MCB

Lab Address:
4-166 MCB


Research Summary/Interests

Developmental plasticity

We are interested in understanding the molecular basis of developmental plasticity. Current research is focused on medium spiny neurons (MSNs), the major type of neuron in the striatum. The striatum plays an important role in regulation of movement, motivation and reward and altered or abnormal activity of MSNs is associated with neurological diseases such as Huntington's (HD) and Parkinson's (PD) and is thought to be a major determinant of addiction. These changes in MSN activity have been correlated with changes in dendritic arborization and the number, distribution and morphology of dendritic spines. Current research in the lab uses a recently developed in vitro system are to 1) determine how neurotransmitter signaling affects MSN development and morphology, 2) analyze neurotransmitter receptor trafficking during dendritic spine development and 3) characterize the relationship between MSN development and network excitability. To achieve these goals, we use a combination of multi-electrode array (MEA) recordings and immunofluorescence microscopy to investigate the relationship between morphometric development and network activity of MSNs. Because it is easily amenable to molecular manipulation and microscopic visualization, future studies may use this in vitro model system to investigate the cellular and molecular mechanisms that regulate MSN development and function, determine the consequences of disease associated gene mutations and screen for drugs that regulate MSN synaptic properties.


For a list of publications, see PubMed.

  • Spillane M, Ketschek A, Jones SL, Korobova F, Marsick B, Lanier L, et al. The actin nucleating Arp2/3 complex contributes to the formation of axonal filopodia and branches through the regulation of actin patch precursors to filopodia. Dev Neurobiol. 2011;71(9):747-58.?
  • Penrod RD, Kourrich S, Kearney E, Thomas MJ, Lanier LM. An embryonic culture system for the investigation of striatal medium spiny neuron dendritic spine development and plasticity. J Neurosci Methods. 2011;200(1):1-13.
  • Hoover BR, Reed MN, Su J, Penrod RD, Kotilinek LA, Grant MK, et al. Tau mislocalization to dendritic spines mediates synaptic dysfunction independently of neurodegeneration.Neuron. 2010;68(6):1067-81.?
  • Xu X, Harder J, Flynn DC, Lanier LM. AFAP120 regulates actin organization during neuronal differentiation. Differentiation. 2009;77(1):38-47.?
  • Popko J, Fernandes A, Brites D, Lanier LM. Automated analysis of NeuronJ tracing data.Cytometry A. 2009;75(4):371-6.?
  • Fernandes A, Falcão AS, Abranches E, Bekman E, Henrique D, Lanier LM, et al. Bilirubin as a determinant for altered neurogenesis, neuritogenesis, and synaptogenesis. Dev Neurobiol. 2009;69(9):568-82.?



NCSI 3101: Introduction to Neuroscience I (Fall semester)