Colloquium Series

The CNLM Colloquium Series, supported by the Thomas Henry Curtis Fund, brings learning and memory scientists from around the world to UC Irvine. This lecture series is a great opportunity for faculty, students, trainees and research staff to learn about the latest in learning and memory research and gain feedback on their own work. Meeting with the speaker provides powerful network building opportunities for students and trainees and fosters future collaborations.

Dale Melbourne Herklotz Conference Center
Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory)
(building 506 on the campus map)

Join the CNLM Seminars from anywhere in the world! Link to livestream will be available on the day of the colloquium. 

Upcoming Colloquia

Friday December 8, 2017 – 11AM 
(note alternate day/time)
Fabio Ferrarelli, M.D., Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
University of Pittsburgh

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Click here to join this seminar from anywhere in the world!

Dr. Ferrarelli’s visit is jointly hosted by the UC Irvine School of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior and the Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory

Sleep spindle deficits in schizophrenia: when do they start?
Sleep spindles are waxing and waning, 12-16 Hz oscillations, occurring during NREM sleep. Spindles are generated by the interplay of the Thalamic Reticular Nucleus (TRN) with the dorsal thalamus, and are then relayed to, and amplified within the cortex. While their functional role has yet to be fully elucidate, recent evidence indicates that spindles are associated with cognitive ability, schizotypal traits, and social functioning in healthy controls (HC), including adolescents and young adults. In previous work, by employing high density (hd)-EEG we established deficits in spindle amplitude, density, duration, and Integrated Spindle Activity (ISA) in centro-parietal and prefrontal regions of chronic patients with schizophrenia (SCZ) compared to both HC and non-schizophrenia psychiatric patients. A reduction in spindle amplitude and density was also recently reported in first episode SCZ, with EEG recordings performed on two central channels (C3, C4). Although promising, these findings leave a number of unanswered questions, including: 1) What is the spatial distribution of spindle deficits at illness onset? 2) Which are the most defective spindle parameters at that stage? 3) When do spindle deficits begin in relation to the development of SCZ and related disorders? Here, after reviewing previous findings on sleep spindle deficits in SCZ, I will present novel results of an ongoing study in first-break psychosis patients, as well as discuss a recently NIMH funded project investigating spindle activity in individuals at high risk for SCZ and other psychotic disorders, which should begin to answer some of these queries.


Monday January 8, 2018 – 4PM (note alternate day/time)
Loren Frank, Ph.D.

Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Kavli Institute for Fundamental Neuroscience
University of California, San Francisco
Dr. Frank’s visit is co-hosted by the Medical Science Training Program, Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology and the Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory

Neural substrates of memories and decisions

Tuesday January 30, 2018 – 11AM
Majid Mohajerani, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
Canadian Center for Behavioral Neuroscience
University of Lethbridge
More info coming soon!


Tuesday February 13, 2018 – 11AM
Mara Mather, Ph.D.
Professor of Gerontology and Psychology
Leonard Davis School of Gerontology
University of Southern California
More info coming soon!


Tuesday February 20, 2018 – 11AM
Betsy Murray, Ph.D.
Section on Neurobiology of Learning and Memory
Laboratory of Neuropsychology
National Institute of Mental Health
More info coming soon!


Tuesday May 1, 2018 – 11AM
Linda Levine, Ph.D.
Psychology and Social Behavior
University of California, Irvine

More info coming soon!



Past Colloquia

CNLM Colloquium Series 2017-2018

Wednesday November 1, 2017 – 10AM (note alternate day/time)
Mark Gluck, Ph.D.

Co-Director, African American Brain Health Initiative
Professor of Neuroscience
Center for Molecular & Behavioral Neuroscience
Rutgers University

Fitness and lifestyle affect neural and cognitive risk factors for Alzheimer’s Disease in older African Americans
In cross-sectional, longitudinal  and interventional studies, we are examining how fitness and lifestyle affect neural and cognitive risk factors for Alzheimer’s Disease. Over the past 12 years, the African American Brain Health Initiative: A University-Community Partnership at Rutgers University-Newark  has worked with local churches, senior centers, and low-income housing, along side city, county, and state agencies for aging and health, to promote improved brain health and reduce risk for Alzheimer’s Disease among older African Americans in Greater Newark, New Jersey. Our cross-sectional and longitudinal studies (funded by NIH/NIA) seek to understand how physical fitness affects both cognitive and neural markers for Alzheimer’s risk. Our interventional research (funded by the NJ Dept. of Health) examines how these markers change following five months of twice-weekly dance-based exercise. The cognitive assessments and brain imaging studies build on Gluck and colleagues prior animal, human, and neurocomputational studies of the role of the hippocampus and related medial temporal lobe structures in mediating stimulus representation and generalization in cognitive skill learning.

Tuesday October 24, 2017 – 11AM
Elly Nedivi, Ph.D.

Professor of Brain & Cognitive Sciences and Biology
The Picower Institute for Learning and Memory
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Visualizing Synapse Structural Dynamics in vivo
The introduction of two-photon microscopy for in vivo imaging has opened the door to chronic monitoring of individual neurons in the adult brain and the study of structural plasticity mechanisms at a very fine scale. Perhaps the biggest contribution of this modern anatomical method has been the discovery that even across the stable excitatory dendritic scaffold there is significant capacity for synaptic remodeling, and that synaptic structural rearrangements are a key mechanism mediating neural circuit adaptation and behavioral plasticity in the adult. To monitor the extent and nature of excitatory and inhibitory synapse dynamics on individual L2/3 pyramidal neurons in mouse visual cortex in vivo, we labeled these neurons with a fluorescent cell fill as well as the fluorescently tagged synaptic scaffolding molecules, Teal-Gephyrin to label inhibitory synapses, and mCherry-PSD-95 to label excitatory synapses. We simultaneously tracked the daily dynamics of both synapse types using spectrally resolved two-photon microscopy. We found that aside from the lower magnitude of excitatory synaptic changes in the adult, as compared to inhibitory ones, excitatory synapse dynamics appear to follow a different logic than inhibitory dynamics. While excitatory dynamics seem to follow a sampling strategy to search for and create connections with new presynaptic partners, inhibitory synapse dynamics likely serve to locally modulate gain at specific cellular locales.

Tuesday October 17, 2017 – 11AM
David Reinkensmeyer Ph.D.

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Biomedical Engineering
University of California, Irvine

Robotic assistance during movement training after stroke: A Hebbian Model?
In this talk I will first provide a brief overview of the evolution o the technology and science of robotic-assisted rehabilitation after stroke over the past twenty years.  Then I will discuss a recent study in which we compared the therapeutic effects of high and low levels of robotic assistance during finger training. Participants (n = 30) with a chronic stroke and moderate hemiparesis actively moved their index and middle fingers to targets to play a musical game similar to GuitarHero three hours/week for three weeks. The FINGER exoskeleton robot provided assistance synchronized to the music; half of the participants were randomized to receive high assistance (causing 82% success at hitting targets), while the other half received low assistance (55% success). High levels of synchronized assistance boosted motivation, as well as secondary motor outcomes (Fugl-Meyer and Lateral Pinch Strength) – particularly for individuals with more severe finger motor deficits. Importantly, individuals with impaired finger proprioception at baseline benefited substantially less from the training. These results show that synchronized robotic assistance can promote psychological outcomes known to modulate motor learning and retention. Further, the therapeutic effectiveness of synchronized robotic assistance may derive at least in part from proprioceptive stimulation, consistent with a Hebbian plasticity model.  I will conclude by presenting data showing extreme motor learning by people with very severe arm impairment after stroke, using a novel bimanual lever drive wheelchair.


CNLM Colloquium Series 2016-2017

buffaloTuesday May 2, 2017 – 11AM
Elizabeth Buffalo, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Department of Physiology and Biophysics
University of Washington School of Medicine


Bridging the gap between the spatial and mnemonic views of the hippocampus​.

While it has long been recognized that medial temporal lobe structures are important for memory formation, studies in rodents have also identified exquisite spatial representations in these regions in the form of place cells in the hippocampus and grid cells in the entorhinal cortex. Spatial representations entail neural activity that is observed when the rat is in a given physical location, and these representations are thought to form the basis of navigation via path integration. One striking difference between rodents and primates is the way in which information about the external world is gathered.  Rodents typically gather information by moving to visit different locations in the environment, sniffing and whisking.  By contrast, primates chiefly use eye movements to visually explore an environme
nt, and our visual system allows for inspection of the environment at a distance. In this seminar, I will discuss recent work from my laboratory that has examined neural activity in the hippocampus and adjacent entorhinal cortex in monkeys performing behavioral tasks including free-viewing of complex natural scenes and navigation in a virtual environment. These data have suggested that spatial representations including place cells, grid cells, border cells, and direction-selective cells can be identified in the primate hippocampal formation even in the absence of physical movement through an environment. I will also discuss new research involving chronic, large-scale recordings throughout the primate brain and other areas of opportunity for future research to further our understanding of the function of the hippocampal formation and the nature of the cognitive map.


Tuesday April 25, 2017 – 11AM
Howard Eichenbaum, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences
Director, Center for Memory and Brain
Director, Cognitive Neurobiology Laboratory
Boston University

The hippocampus: Mapping memories in space and time
Many studies have identified neurons in the hippocampus and associated cortical areas as coding for locations in space (i.e., place cells and grid cells), leading some to view the hippocampus as dedicated to mapping space and supporting spatial navigation. Here I will argue an alternative view that populations of hippocampal neurons create a highly organized mapping of important events in the places and meaningful contexts in which they occur. Furthermore, I will describe recent evidence that hippocampal “time cells” in both the hippocampus and associated cortical areas encode specific moments in a temporally structured experience, much as place and grid cells encode locations in spatially structured environment. And I will describe how time cell ensembles encode the temporal organi
zation of specific memories and predict memory success. These findings support of an emerging view that the hippocampus serves memory (and navigation) by mapping the organization of events within their spatial and temporal context.

SpitaleTuesday February 21, 2017 – 11AM
Robert Spitale, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Chemistry
University of California, Irvine


Emerging Chemical Tools for Studying RNA: Applications to Neuroscience?
Synopsis: RNA molecules play critical roles in nearly every cellular pathway. They have been demonstrated to be critical to the onset of many neurological disorders and diseases. Despite their importance there is a real lack of tools to study their biology at high precision. Within this presentation I will detail some of our labs ongoing work, and what we hope to achieve in the near future. I will also outline how what we are developing can be applied to some of the longest standing questions in nueroscience, on the molecular scale.


Tuesday, November 1, 2016 – 11AM
Jason Shepherd, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Neurobiology and Anatomy
Adjunct Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences
University of Utah, School of Medicine


Retroviral Origins of Synaptic Plasticity
Memories are stored in specific patterns of synaptic connections that occur through changes in synaptic strength, which rely on the addition or removal of AMPA-type glutamate receptors (AMPARs) from postsynaptic membranes. The immediate early gene Arc plays a critical role in multiple forms of synaptic plasticity, but the underlying molecular mechanisms remain unclear. Here we describe novel findings that Arc protein acts like the GAG retrovirus poly-peptide to control synaptic plasticity. Using cryo-electron microscopy we show that Arc forms viral capsid-like oligomers, which bind lipid membranes and RNA. Our studies elucidate the processes that underlie protein-synthesis dependent synaptic plasticity and may have uncovered a specialized neuronal trafficking pathway that has unique biochemistry similar to viral infection and replication.

manderSpecial Colloquium co-hosted by the CNLM and the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior
Tuesday, October 11, 2016 – 11AM

Bryce Mander, Ph.D.
University of California, Berkeley


Neural correlates of age-related disruption of sleep oscillation expression and sleep-dependent memory
Sleep changes with age, becoming more fragmented, less organised, shorter in duration, and less densely-packed with the signature sleep oscillations, sleep spindles and slow waves, which causally promote memory consolidation. Despite the established role of sleep, and in particular slow waves and sleep spindles, in memory processing across the lifespan, how age-related changes in the brain ultimately impact slow wave and sleep spindle expression remains unclear. In this lecture, I will review our recent work examining how age-related changes in brain structure and neuropathology impacts slow wave and sleep spindle expression, ultimately impacting memory-related activation within the hippocampus. Embedded in a larger literature, these findings help to clarify how sleep changes with age may contribute to age-related memory decline, and offer novel treatment targets to preserve memory in later life.


CNLM Colloquium Series 2015-2016

 igarashiWednesday, April 20, 2016, 4 p.m.
Kei Igarashi, Ph.D.
Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, University of California, Irvine

Dissecting sensory-hippocampal circuit interactions during associative learning
Declarative memory is enabled by circuits in the entorhinal cortex (EC) that interface the hippocampus with the neocortex. During encoding and retrieval of declarative memories, entorhinal and hippocampal circuits are thought to interact via theta and gamma oscillations, which in awake rodents predominate frequency spectra in both regions. Using multisite recording at successive stages of associative learning, we found that the coherence of beta/gamma oscillations in directly-connected entorhinal-hippocampus circuits evolves as rats learn to use an odor cue to guide navigational behavior, and that such coherence is linked to the development of ensemble representations for unique trial outcomes in each area. These results point to 20-40 Hz oscillations as a mechanism for synchronizing evolving representations in dispersed neural circuits during encoding and retrieval of olfactory-spatial associative memory. Potential roles of 20-40 Hz oscillations for circuit plasticity, as well as future perspective on olfactory-hippocampal circuit analyses will be discussed.

ParviziMonday, March 28, 2016, 4 p.m.
Josef Parvizi, M.D., Ph.D.
Department of Neurology and Neurological Sciences, Stanford University

Numbers in the human brain: Eavesdropping on the activity of discrete populations of neurons in the human brain during arithmetic processing
I will present a historical overview of localization of functions in the brain and review some of our most recent studies with intracranial electrocorticography (ECoG) and electrical brain stimulation (EBS) in patients implanted with intracranial electrodes to shed new light on some of the open questions in the field of cognitive neuroscience, especially when it comes to mathematical processing. For instance, which regions are at play when we put 2 and 2 together and how are they working together. I will present some of our most recent data from experimental as well as naturalistic conditions and will present videos of patients during ECoG and EBS procedures.


Tuesday, February 9, 2016, 4 p.m.
Jay McClelland, Ph.D.
Department of Psychology and Center for Mind, Brain, and Computation, Stanford University

Integrating Rapid Neocortical Consolidation into Complimentary Learning Systems Theory
Since the 1950’s, it has been known that the medial temporal lobes in the brain play a special role in learning and memory. These findings have led, through the work and thinking of David Marr and many others, to a theory of the roles of hippocampus and neocortex in memory called the complementary learning systems theory (McClelland, McNaughton, & O’Reilly, 1995). Our theory postulated two distinct learning systems, one in the medial temporal lobes that supports the rapid learning of arbitrary new information, and one in the neocortex and other structures that supports the gradual discovery of structured representations that encode knowledge of the natural and man-made world, as well as the knowledge underlying cognitive skills and the knowledge underlying language and communication. In this talk, I examine evidence from recent studies showing that new information can sometimes be integrated rapidly into the neocortex, challenging our theory as previously presented. I present new simulations based on our theory, showing that new information that is consistent with knowledge previously acquired by a cortex-like artificial neural network can be learned rapidly without interfering with existing knowledge. These results match the pattern observed in the recent studies, and provide a mechanism for understanding when and how rapid integration of new information can occur.


Thursday, December 10, 1 p.m.
Robert T. Knight, M.D.
University of California, Berkeley

Frontal Cortex Physiology and Human Behavior






Thursday, November 19, 4p.m.

Sheri J.Y. Mizumori, Ph.D.
University of Washington

Hippocampal neural activity reflects the economy of choices
Hippocampal neural activity patterns are context-dependent, and this may aid in the formation of episodic memories. Distinguishing contexts requires an ability to recall features of a learned context, then compare the predicted features to those actually experienced. We studied how hippocampus represents predicted context information. Hippocampal place cells and theta activity were recorded during the performance of a maze-based probability discounting task in which predictive information about the probability of reward was systematically varied. Place fields redistributed (or remapped) around the goal location, but only during low probability trials that ended with reward delivery. Also around the goal location, theta power increased in proportion to the expected probability of reward, and not sensory or behavioral modulation. Theta power further dynamically varied as specific econometric information was obtained ‘on the fly’ during task performance. Behavioral economic information may define a ‘decision context’ that guides hippocampal context-dependent representations and learning during navigation.

medium_MeckThursday, May 14, 4 p.m.
Warren H. Meck, Ph.D.
Duke University
Functional and Neural Mechanisms of Interval Timing
The ability of the brain to process time in the seconds-to-minutes range is a fascinating problem given that the basic electrophysiological properties of neurons operate on a millisecond time scale. Neuropsychological studies of humans and other animals with damage to the basal ganglia have indicated that these structures play an important role in timing and time perception. Parkinson’s disease patients, for example, show evidence of a slowed internal clock and the “coupling” of durations stored in temporal memory when tested off of their dopaminergic medication. These studies have shown that the normal cognitive functions of the basal ganglia are heavily dependent upon dopamine-regulated neuronal firing in the cortex and striatum. Moreover, the electrophysiological properties of striatal medium spiny neurons within the basal ganglia suggest that these neurons may serve as a coincidence detectors of cortical and thalamic oscillatory input in order to provide the basis for duration discrimination in the seconds-to- minutes range. Recent findings obtained from ensemble recording in the prefrontal/cingulate cortex and the anterior dorsal striatum of rats performing in peak-interval timing procedures indicate that striatal neurons are able to encode specific durations in their firing rate in a “perceptron-like” manner. These findings correspond well with fMRI data obtained from human participants performing similar timing tasks and lend support to the striatal beat-frequency model of interval timing.

CNLM Colloquium Series 2014


Thursday, January 16, 11am
Charles Limoli, Ph.D.
University of California, Irvine
Radiation- and chemotherapy-induced cognitive dysfunction: Causes, consequences and treatments
Exposure of the CNS to treatments used to control the advance of cancer has been known to compromise cognitive function. Depending on disease state, treatments specifics and socioeconomic factors, cognitive outcomes vary in onset and severity. With increasing numbers of cancer patients surviving long-term, cognitive health is becoming an increasing concern, and to date, no satisfactory treatments exist for ameliorating the progressive and often debilitating cognitive side effects caused by radiotherapy and chemotherapy. This talk will cover the various mechanisms underlying treatment associated cognitive dysfunction and discuss the potential of using stem cell based strategies for the long-term treatment of this serious unmet medical need.

routtenbergThursday, March 13, 11am
Aryeh Routtenberg, Ph.D.
Northwestern University
Is mamallian NMDA-dependent long-lasting memory conserved in C. elegans?
The N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDA-R) is associated with memory formation in both vertebrate and invertebrate nervous systems suggesting evolutionary conservation of this receptor mechanism. While considerable information exists concerning vertebrate NMDA-R and memory, evidence for its role in invertebrates is sparse; hence its linkage to mammalian mechanisms remains poorly understood.  To begin to address this issue, we studied the formation of long-term associative memory as regulated by NMDAR and its subunit NMR-1 in the nematode, Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans).

frankThursday, March 20, 11am
Loren Frank, Ph.D.
University of California, San Francisco
Neural substrates of memory retrieval and decision-making
The hippocampus is a brain structure known to be critical for forming and retrieving memories for the experiences of daily life, but the specific patterns of neural activity that support memory formation and retrieval remain unclear.  In this talk I will discuss work from my laboratory that links a specific pattern of hippocampal place cell activity to the ability to use past experience to guide behavior.  We have shown that hippocampal replay events can reactivate patterns of brain activity from a previous experience in awake animals and that disrupting these events interferes with learning and memory-guided decision-making.  Further, we have found that the intensity of replay activity is predictive of whether an upcoming choice will be correct or incorrect. Our results suggest that the awake replay of place cell sequences plays a role in deliberative proceeses that are important for memory-guided decision making.