What is Memory Neuroscience?

A purpose for memory is the transfer of our experiences over time.  How experience is stored as memory in the brain is a major focus in the field of Neuroscience. In the Memory Neuroscience lab at Vassar College, we study how memory is organized and retrieved in the brain at the level of molecules, structure, and function. A major emphasis in the lab is the study of aversive (fear) and reward memory.

Central Questions asked in the Memory Neuroscience Lab

1) Where are cued fear memories stored in the brain over very long periods of time?

2) How does time interact with our ability to retrieve cued fear memory?

3) How does alcohol interact with the expression of specific cued fear memories that have already been formed?

To test these questions, we apply neuroscience tools for visualizing, measuring, and manipulating memory processes in the brain. The goal of our research program is to advance understanding of how memory is organized and retrieved in the brain, with the ultimate goal of translating our work into treatments for disorders of learning and memory, such as Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and drug addiction.

Aim 1: How do memory circuits underlying cued fear memory retrieval performance change over very long periods of time?


Aim 2: What is the neurobehavioral impact of chronic alcohol on fear extinction memory retrieval?

Alcohol exposure following fear extinction learning enhanced CS-evoking freezing, suggesting alcohol impairs fear extinction memory retrieval.

Aim 3: What is the contribution of hippocampal-cortical NR2B receptors to stress-induced dendrite remodeling in the prefrontal cortex?