What is Memory Neuroscience?

A purpose for memory is the transfer of our experiences over time. Memory transfer facilitates informed decision-making.  How experience is stored and maintained as memory over time 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) memory.

A Central Question asked in the Memory Neuroscience Lab

How does memory change with the passage of time?

To test this question, we apply neuroscience tools for visualizing 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 anxiety-related disorders. This research is funded by the National Institue of Mental Health R15 MH127534-01.

See our most recent paper (2022) in the journal Neuropharmacology showing how alcohol exposure impacts fear extinction and prefrontal cortex plasticity with Vassar student co-authors Kate Lawson ’19, Miranda Scarlata ’19, Chris Cho ’22, Charlie Mangan ’22, David Petersen ’22, Hannah Thompson ’23, Sara Ehnstrom ’22, Lexi Mousley ’20, and Jessica Bezek ’19

See another recent paper (2021) in The Journal of Neuroscience Research showing a role for gut microbiome diversity in fear memory expression and anxiety-like behaviors with Vassar student co-authors Caro Geary ’19, Victoria Wilk ’20, Kate Barton ’20, Parvaneh Jefferson ’20, Tea Binder ’20, Claire Baker ’19, Achal Fernado-Peiris ’20, Lexi Mousley ’20, Stefano Rozental ’21, and Hannah Thompson ’22.

See one of our recent papers (2019) showing the impact of alcohol on traumatic fear memory with Vassar student co-authors Miranda Scarlata ’19, Daniel Lee ’19, Serena Lee ’18, Savannah Kadigian ’18, Abby Hiller ’18, Julian Dishart ’18, Gabby Mintz ’18, Ziwen Wang ’18, Gaby Coste ’20, Lexi Mousley ’20, Ivan Soler ’18, Kate Lawson ’19, Alex Ng ’19, and Jess Bezek ’19.

See one of our papers (2018) on the Neurobiology of Fear Memories with Vassar student co-authors Gabby Pollack ’17, Jessica Bezek ’19, Serena Lee ’18, Miranda Scarlata ’19 and Leah Weingast ’17.