Neurocircuitry of Emotional Learning & Memory
PI: Marieke R. Gilmartin, Ph.D.
We are a product of our memories. They enrich our connections with others and guide our decisions and behavior. Our team is driven by the desire to understand how brief but meaningful experiences are encoded within the brain to create lasting memories, and why for some individuals, memories born out of pain and trauma can be debilitating, contributing to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or major depressive disorder (MDD). There is much we still do not understand about how memories are formed and what role emotion plays in their persistence. How do different brain systems, each encoding a discrete aspect of an experience work together to build a cohesive memory? How are relevant associations distinguished from irrelevant ones to promote an accurate memory? How do the brain mechanisms of learning differ between males and females and how do these differences contribute to sex bias in psychiatric illness? We address these questions in preclinical rodent learning models using state of the art tools to monitor and manipulate brain activity within specific brain circuits during fear conditioning, a simple yet powerful learning paradigm used to study the neural basis of memory.