Cellular mechanisms of learning and memory
Experience-dependent changes in behavior are mediated by long-term functional modifications in brain circuits. We are interested in understanding the underlying mechanisms at the molecular, cellular and circuit levels. As a model system, we are using classical (Pavlovian) fear conditioning, a simple form of associative learning that is particularly suitable for study in rodents.
The inability to control or inhibit inappropriate fear responses is a hallmark of human anxiety disorders. We are investigating the cellular mechanisms underlying fear extinction, an associative learning process mediating inhibitory control of inappropriate fear behavior.
Using a multidisciplinary and integrated experimental approach in mice, we are combining in vitro and in vivo electrophysiology, imaging, molecular biology, genetics, and behavioral techniques to identify the synaptic and cellular constituents of neural circuits in the amygdala underlying the acquisition, encoding and extinction of fear memory - the microcircuitry of fear conditioning.