Cellular Circuits of Memory

Dr. Silvia Viana da Silva

Areas of investigation/research focus

Memory is an essential part of life as it is necessary for all other cognitive functions. From the small invertebrate adaptation to the environment to the lifetime memory of events in humans, the cellular basis of memory is still not fully understood. Our research group is focused on understanding how neuronal microcircuits in the hippocampal associated brain regions are altered in normal aging as well as in memory pathologies such as Alzheimer’s disease. We use electrophysiological methods to investigate brain oscillations and single cell activity in mice while they acquire, retain and retrieve new memories. Taking advantage of transgenic mouse lines and genetic manipulations with viral vectors we try to understand how different cell types are involved in the formation of short and long-lasting memories. We are particularly interested in the interplay between principal cells and interneurons and how imbalances in their activity can result in memory failure. The interaction between neurons in different areas of the brain can give rise to oscillatory activity at a different frequency than the firing frequency of individual neurons.

Our lab aims to further the current understanding of the relationship between synaptic plasticity and entorhinal-hippocampal oscillations. We use state-of-the-art in vivo electrophysiology combined with novel imaging techniques to identify altered neuronal circuits in animal disease models. We believe our line of research can provide new ideas to guide therapies with the potential to ameliorate or restore the memory impairments characteristic of patients with Alzheimer’s disease of associated pathologies.

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