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Substrates of Memory and Learning Program

Overview

This program supports relevant basic research on the fundamental mechanisms underlying memory and learning from the behavioral, systems, and cellular perspectives in humans and animals. Deficits in memory and learning function are key features of many psychiatric disorders and improving memory and learning ability are important objectives for therapies addressing mental disorders. Memory is a complex cognitive process and there are multiple approaches to studying its underlying mechanisms and forms, including but not limited to: working, episodic, semantic, and procedural memory, etc. Areas of interest include: How is memory consolidated? What neural systems support this process? What mechanisms underlie how memories or previously learned phenomena are recalled, forgotten or extinguished? What processes are involved in the reconsolidation of memories? These are only a representative sample of important issues in this field. Investigation of the interactions between the neural systems mediating these functions and others is of particular interest, as is the use of integrative and multimodal approaches such as single and multiple-unit electrophysiology, lesioning, imaging, and gene-knockout techniques.

Areas of Emphasis

  • Understanding the functional consequences of neurogenesis on cognitive processes, particularly learning and memory.
  • The role of the prefrontal cortex as part of an integrative network coordinating various aspects of learning and/or memory functions.
  • Sex differences in and the development of memory and learning systems
  • Individual differences in expression of learning and memory as mediated by neurophysiological and/or genetic mechanisms

Contact

Bettina Osborn, Ph.D.
Program Chief
6001 Executive Boulevard, Room 7190, MSC 9637
301-443-1576, osbornb@mail.nih.gov