Martha Paton


Cambridge, US

brain synapse receptor cognitive neuron developmental disorder

Martha Constantine-Paton studied the formation and modification of synapses – the interconnections between neurons – in order to understand how experience shapes the wiring of the brain. By studying individual neurons in the visual system of developing animals, she showed that a class of molecules known as NMDA receptors plays an essential role in setting the strengths of synapses. NMDA receptors are thought to underlie many aspects of learning throughout life. Constantine-Paton also examined the role these receptors play in developmental disorders that have their origins in early life.

Constantine-Paton, a founding member of the McGovern Institute, is Emeritus Professor in the departments of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and Biology. She moved to MIT in 1999, having previously held professorships at Princeton University and later at Yale University where she was director of the Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program.