Genes, Development And Behavior
Department of Translational Neuroscience
Utrecht, The Netherlands

Geert Ramakers

Position: Associate Professor Neurophysiology
Phone: (+31) (0)88 75 68413
Phone secretariat: (+31) (0) 88 75 68810 or (+31) (0) 88 75 63450



I am interested in cellular and synaptic plasticity. I want to know how neurons integrate synaptic signals and convert these signals into output signals (action potentials). Research focusses on two brain areas: the hippocampus and the midbrain dopamine system (ventral tegmental area and striatum). Whole cell patch-clamp and field potential recordings in vitro are primarily used to study these phenomena.


I teach basic neurophysiology (electrical activity in neurons and synaptic transmission) in the bachelor programs Biomedical Sciences and Medicine and the master program Neuroscience and Cognition. I am program coordinator of the master Neuroscience and Cognition and the PhD program Clinical and Experimental Neuroscience. Finally, I am chair of the educational committee of the bachelor program Biomedical Sciences, member of the daily board of the Teaching Academy Utrecht University and member of the Committee on Higher Education and Training of the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies.



Plasticity of neural circuits plays an important role during development, learning and ongoing behaviour. Plasticity of neural systems can result from alterations in synaptic strength, as well as changes in neuronal excitability. Unraveling the mechanisms underlying plasticity is fundamental in understanding the physiology of learning and memory and pathophysiology of neurological diseases (e.g. addiction). The aim of our research is to delineate specific processes involved in synaptic and cellular plasticity and eventually the role of these processes in physiological and pathophysiological conditions. 

Experimental strategy and key results:

Our experimental strategy is to identify how specific signal transduction cascades (G-protein coupled receptors, axon guidance molecules) or behavioral activity influence activity-dependent synaptic and cellular plasticity using in vitro electrophysiological and pharmacological approaches. These studies are carried out in close collaboration with other members of the department. Part of the work is funded by NWO (TOP Grant 'Shining light on loss of control over substance and food intake').


1: Jongbloets BC, Lemstra S, Schellino R, Broekhoven MH, Parkash J, Hellemons AJ, Mao T, Giacobini P, van Praag H, De Marchis S, Ramakers GM, Pasterkamp RJ (2017) Stage-specific functions of Semaphorin7A during adult hippocampal neurogenesis rely on distinct receptors. Nat Commun. 8:14666. doi: 10.1038/ncomms14666

2: Van der Plasse G, van Zessen R, Luijendijk MC, Erkan H, Stuber GD, Ramakers GM, Adan RA. (2015) Modulation of cue-induced firing of ventral tegmental area dopamine neurons by leptin and ghrelin. Int J Obes 39:1742-1749. doi: 10.1038/ijo.2015.131.

3: Meye FJ, Ramakers GM, Adan RAH. (2014) The vital role of constitutive GPCR activity in the mesolimbic dopamine system. Transl Psychiatry. 2014, 4:e361.
doi: 10.1038/tp.2013.130.

4: Jongbloets BC, Ramakers GM, Pasterkamp RJ. (2013) Semaphorin7A and its receptors: pleiotropic regulators of immune cell function, bone homeostasis, and neural development. Semin Cell Dev Biol. 2013, 24(3):129-138. doi: 10.1016/j.semcdb.2013.01.002

5: Meye FJ, Trezza V, Vanderschuren LJ, Ramakers GM, Adan RA. (2013) Neutral antagonism at the cannabinoid 1 receptor: a safer treatment for obesity.   Mol Psychiatry. 2013, 18(12):1294-1301. doi: 10.1038/mp.2012.145

6: Meye FJ, van Zessen R, Smidt MP, Adan RA, Ramakers GM. (2012) Morphine withdrawal enhances constitutive μ-opioid receptor activity in the ventral tegmental area.   J Neurosci. 2012, 32(46):16120-16128. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1572-12.2012