We are interested in how circuits in the brain interact to store, organize, recall and use memories. We employ a highly multidisciplinary approach that extends from molecules to circuits and behavior utilizing genetic approaches, in vivo electrophysiology and neurochemistry.

Several of the lab's projects address how the hippocampus assigns different aspects of mnemonic processing to the specialized, interconnected networks that correspond to the main hippocampal anatomical subfields; the dentate gyrus (DG), CA3, CA2 and CA1 areas, while others focus on factors, both intrinsic and extrinsic to the hippocampus, that modulate a memory's salience and persistence.

Current goals include:

behavior genetics physiology neurochemistry ????

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Genetics & Optogenetics

Conditional mouse genetics is the lab's core technique, allowing the precise regional and temporal control over circuit interventions. We use existing plasticity and transmission mutants, as well as generate novel transgenic lines. In addition we design and produce multiple types of injectable virus to facilitate region or projection specific expression of optogenetic channels. We also employ fluorescent in situ techniques to use Arc and Homer gene expression as markers of neuronal activation.

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Behavior

Behavior is used to characterize the consequences of our genetic intervention on learning and memory in the mice. The aim is to use both established and novel paradigms to test specific hypothesis of circuit function. Behavioral test are designed to be compatible with in vivo electrophysiology and neurochemistry to allow direct observation of the impact of learning and recall on circuit behavior.

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Electrophysiology

We use the well-characterized single unit and population electrophysiology of the hippocampus as the starting point of our investigations. In our mutant mice we examine learning induced changes in memory representations, coordination between hippocampus and other brain regions, and correlations between changes in neurochemistry and neuronal activity.

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Neurochemistry

We use fast-scan cyclic voltammetry (FSCV), an electrochemical technique that allows the measurement of electroactive species (i.e. catecholamines) with high temporal and spatial resolution. FSCV is often used to monitor phasic release in major catecholaminergic tracts such as the mesolimbic dopamine system. We employ FSCV to monitor the pattern of catecholaminergic activity in the mouse hippocampus and associated structures during behavioral events known to engage the hippocampus, such as novelty encoding and spatial learning.