Research program title
Neuronal ensembles of extinction memories
Flexibly updating old memories with new information is essential for survival and adaptive day-to-day functioning. Any disruption in this process leaves us ‘stuck’ in the past and resistant to treatment of problem behaviours. The project seeks to gain insight into the basic behavioral and neurobiological mechanisms of memory updating exemplified by extinction. In extinction memories are updated such that a potent signal for a biologically significant event is able to ‘lose’ some of that potency. Using a combination of theory-driven behavioral paradigms coupled with optogenetic, pharmacogenetic and in vivo single-cell recording techniques, we examine two fundamentally different paradigms for inducing extinction learning, namely failure to deliver an expected outcome (i.e. omission) and generation of an (over)expectation of an increased outcome followed by a standard outcome (i.e. overexpectation). By examining the neural mechanisms of these differing forms of extinction learning from the cell to the circuit level, the project will provide an integrative analysis of the over-arching neurobiological circuit mechanisms of extinction that moves beyond paradigm-specific and single-brain region investigations. Specifically, the project will examine whether undergoing two distinct types of extinction procedures can make extinction learning more durable, and what neuronal ensembles in amygdala subnuclei and beyond control this learning.
Academic qualifications required
- PhD in Behavioural or Systems Neuroscience.
- Desired experience: in vivo recording techniques, programming (Matlab), staining and immunohistochemistry, conducting behavioral studies with rodents.