Memory and Brain: Remembering What’s Important
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Our research connects neuroscience with psychology to ask how the hippocampal memory system supports everyday memories. Many anatomical details of this system are shared across mammals, and our research has taken advantage of this evolutionary conservation by studying memory in both humans and rats. One goal of the laboratory is to answer fundamental questions such as how something as simple as temporal contiguity can oblige items to be associated in memory, how neural synchrony in the hippocampus and beyond can coordinate the functional dynamics of memory, and how activation of amygdala inputs into the hippocampus can enhance those dynamics. Another goal is to use the answers to those questions for pursuing therapies relevant to human memory disorders. For example, we have studied how systemic administration of M1 muscarinic acetylcholine agonists can impact hippocampal activity in healthy rats and in transgenic rat models of Alzheimer’s disease. These two broad goals dovetail. Finding basic mechanisms for enhancing memory will be a window into the biological machinery that supports our everyday memories and will point to therapeutic treatments for diseases and disorders that impair memory. The long-term goal of the laboratory is to trace the details of this memory system from cells to circuits to cognition in order to diagram a blueprint of healthy memory from which one can diagnose and treat disorders of memory.