Mission

The Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory at UC Irvine is directed by Michael A. Yassa. It is the first institute in the world dedicated to the study of learning and memory. In 35 years since it was first established in 1983 by the UC Regents, with James L. McGaugh as its Founding Director, it has significantly transformed our understanding of the brain and how it stores information. It has long been heralded as the “Mecca of Learning and Memory” and has been at the forefront of brain science ever since its inception.

The CNLM’s mission is to “crack the memory code”. This is only possible by using a multidisciplinary approach that breaks down the barriers between neuroscientists and bridges across levels of analysis. Research programs at the CNLM are completely integrated, from molecules to mind.

Our focus can be summarized in three tenets:

  1. Mapping memories: Using the most revolutionary technologies in dynamic live imaging and physiological recording of individual cells as well as whole brains, across animals and humans, we continue to advance a comprehensive understanding of how memories are made. Much of what is known about how memory works was discovered by CNLM Fellows and Alumni, who form a global network of over 500 scholars.
  2. Fixing memories: Using recent advances in understanding how brain cells and individual genes are turned on and off, we can now control the fate of memories in a number of animal models. An abnormally strong pathological memory in a condition such as PTSD or drug addiction can be eliminated. Memory loss in a condition such as Alzheimer’s disease can be reversed. We are now applying these transformative advances in basic science to improving human lives.
  3. Memory ‘on a chip’: Deciphering the memory code allows us to develop new technology that addresses two major goals. The first is to replace components of the brain that are critical for memory such as the hippocampus. The second is to create new artificial intelligence applications embedded in robotic systems that improve the human condition. We continue to make advances on both of these fronts.