Alessio Attardo What Are the Basic Principles that Govern Synaptic Plasticity?

Holding faculty positions at a number of prestigious universities in Germany and the USA, Dr. Alessio Attardo is Group Leader in the Department of Stress Neurobiology and Neurogenetics at the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry. Having completed his doctoral work at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, Attardo spent several years at Stanford University, first as a postdoctoral fellow and later as a HHMI research specialist. Attardo’s research focuses on hippocampal plasticity as well as representation and memory during stress. With his current research being supported by a number of long term grants from the DFG, since 2019, Attardo has been invited to present his research to specialist institutes in Greece, Italy, Germany and Israel.

Area of Research

Neurobiology, Neurogenetics, Neuroscience

Tim P. Castello-Waldow, Ghabiba Weston, Alessandro F. Ulivi, Alireza Chenani, Yonatan Loewenstein, Alon Chen and Alessio Attardo. "Hippocampal Neurons with Stable Excitatory Connectivity Become Part of Neuronal Representations." PLoS biology 18 (2020): e3000928. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.3000928.  

since 2015

Research Group Leader

Max Planck Society (more details)

Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry


Postdoctoral Fellow

Stanford University


Postdoctoral Fellow

Max Planck Society (more details)

Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics



Max Planck Society (more details)

Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics


Degree in Biological Sciences

University of Palermo

© Maximilian Dörrbecker

Max Planck Society

"The Max Planck Society is Germany's most successful research organization. Since its establishment in 1948, no fewer than 18 Nobel laureates have emerged from the ranks of its scientists, putting it on a par with the best and most prestigious research institutions worldwide. The more than 15,000 publications each year in internationally renowned scientific journals are proof of the outstanding research work conducted at Max Planck Institutes – and many of those articles are among the most-cited publications in the relevant field." (Source)


Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry

"The Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, which focuses primarily on research into depression and anxiety disorders, is one of the world's leading institutes in this field. Here, basic research is closely interlinked with clinical research: the Institute incorporates a 120-bed hospital, numerous specialist outpatient departments and a day unit. Within these facilities, the modern research branches of genetics and proteomics are combined with the clinical analysis techniques of imaging and the measurement of brain function. The aim is to identify biomarkers of psychiatric and neurological disorders in a bid to better understand the molecular basis of these diseases. The knowledge obtained goes into the development of new therapies and drugs for the personalised medicine of tomorrow." (Source)


Our memories define who we are. Here, learning and memory are essential but how does the brain process and store information? Neurons are the elemental cells that compute and store this information in several ways. ALESSIO ATTARDO is interested in synapses. Synapses are the connections between neurons and this is where information flows. Specifically, Attardo focuses on the basic principles that govern synaptic plasticity in the hippocampus, the brain area that is involved in processing and recalling episodes of daily life. Using technology that allows inserting a piece of optical fiber in a mouse brain, his research group was able to track synapses in the hippocampus which allowed them to quantify how stable these synapses are over time. Their results confirm the hypothesis that the stability of synapses reflects the permanence of information in a brain region. Understanding how memories are stored allows designing treatments that can help patients with memory loss, such as Alzheimer's patients.

LT Video Publication DOI:

Impermanence of Dendritic Spines in Live Adult CA1 Hippocampus

  • Alessio Attardo, James E. Fitzgerald and Mark J. Schnitzer
  • Nature
  • Published in 2015
Alessio Attardo, James E. Fitzgerald and Mark J. Schnitzer. "Impermanence of Dendritic Spines in Live Adult CA1 Hippocampus." Nature 523 (2015): 592.