Memory enables us to use past experience to anticipate and prepare for future challenges. But memories can only be used adaptively if they are retrieved at the right time and place. For instance, memories of a traumatic experience can be useful in helping one avoid or confront situations similar to the original trauma. But retrieval of trauma memories in inappropriate situations is maladaptive. Anxiety disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder and phobia are believed to occur, in part, because of the inability to suppress recall of aversive memories.
The major aim of our lab is to understand how the brain forms memories of our experiences, how these memories are retrieved at the right time and place, and how these memories can be suppressed. We focus on the hippocampus, a region of the brain that is specialized for rapidly generating detailed, multimodal memories of our experiences, called episodic memories. We study hippocampal function in mice because of the availability of genetic tools that give us the ability to manipulate neurons and neural circuits with unprecedented precision. Learn more about our research.