Investigating the Role of Negative Valence in the Temporal Dynamics of Memory-Linking

2018 Seed Grant
Denise Cai, Ph.D.
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Determining how distinct memories are formed, linked, and retrieved, and the role of fear in these processes, is an essential part of understanding PTSD, a debilitating disorder characterized by the re-experiencing of a traumatic event in the form of persistent and intrusive memories. In this study, we will test whether adding the component of fear lengthens the window of time for associating memories retrospectively and if decreasing the overlapping neural ensemble during an experience of fear can decrease the association between fearful memories and safe ones in a mouse model. Our study combines imaging neural activity during the encoding, consolidation (storage and association), and retrieval of both safe and fearful memories with the use of an innovative wire-free Miniscope that images the brain while the mice roam and sleep freely in their cages. We will also inactivate specific sets of neuronal cells to assess the way in which these ensembles may impact how, how much, and when fear is transferred from an aversive memory to a safe one. Will decreasing the overlap of neural ensembles decrease the linking of distinct memories? We expect our results to show that the overlap between neuronal cells is responsible, at least in part, for we what call the over-linking of memories and may contribute to pathological memory disorders, such as PTSD. Identifying these processes may provide an opportunity for the development of new treatments for the disorder.

Other Grants

Rebekah C. Evans, Ph.D., Georgetown University
In Vivo and Ex Vivo Dissection of Midbrain Neuron Activity During Exercise
Exercise is important for the health of the body and the mind. Exercise promotes learning and reduces symptoms of brain-related diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. However, it…
William J. Giardino, Ph.D. Stanford University
Deciphering the Neuropeptide Circuitry of Emotional Arousal in Narcolepsy
This research project aims to investigate the neural mechanisms of a specific type of brain cell called neuropeptide neurons within a region of the brain’s amygdala network called the bed…
Howard Gritton, Ph.D., University of Illinois
Attention Mechanisms Contributing to Auditory Spatial Processing.
Our world is composed of a rich mixture of sounds. We often process sounds including speech in the presence of many other competing auditory stimuli (e.g., voices in a crowded…
Nora Kory, Ph.D., Harvard University
Elucidating the Fates and Functions of Lactate in the Brain
The human brain requires significant energy to function. Despite accounting for only 2% of our body weight, the brain consumes a substantial 20% of the body’s energy, relying on a…