The Barnes Lab focuses on the fundamental cellular mechanisms that control the development of the cerebral cortex prior to and following birth. The cells of the developing nervous system are bombarded by a myriad of external signals during their migration and differentiation. Deciphering how these cells interpret and respond to these signals provides insight into the mechanisms shaping brain development and responses following injury. The Barnes laboratory identifies and characterizes genes that are required for the proper formation and connectivity of the developing cerebral cortex. A major focus of the lab is directed toward mapping the pathways that link extra-cellular stimuli to alterations in gene expression and cytoskeletal rearrangement during neuronal differentiation. Neuronal polarity is a fundamental aspect of differentiation and function. In the last decade, neuroscientists have begun to discover the signaling cascades crucial for the ultimate establishment of the structural and functional distinctions of dendrites and axons. The laboratory combines an array of techniques from conditional gene deletion to cell biology and proteomics to probe the role of various signals in neuronal polarization.