Message from CNLM Director, Michael A. Yassa

Dear colleagues,

Please join me in welcoming nine faculty colleagues as our newest Fellows of the Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory. New Fellows are nominated and elected by a majority vote of the current membership.



Michael A. Yassa, Ph.D.
Director, Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory


Welcome to the New CNLM Fellows - Amal Alachkar, Ph.D.

Amal Alachkar, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Teaching
Pharmaceutical Sciences
School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences

Dr. Alachkar's research focuses on understanding the neurobiology of neurological and psychiatric disorders and identifying therapeutic target for optimal treatment. Her research includes three directions: (1) how aversive conditions during pregnancy such as famine, malnutrition, and stress disrupt fetal development and program the susceptibility to neuropsychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, and autism, (2) dissecting the role of the brain circuits involving oxytocin and melanin concentrating hormone (MCH) in cognition and social behaviors, and (3) deciphering the roles of primary cilia in brain function and dysfunction.

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Welcome to the New CNLM Fellows - Laura Ewell, Ph.D.

Laura Ewell, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Anatomy and Neurobiology
School of Biological Sciences

Dr. Ewell's lab employs in vivo and in vitro electrophysiology to understand the cellular mechanisms of memory and epilepsy. Her work focuses on hippocampal networks. She is interested in single unit physiology, oscillations, neural sequence generation, and brain-state dependent modulation. She strives to uncover and connect mechanisms at the micro-circuit and network level.

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Welcome to the New CNLM Fellows - Megan Peters, Ph.D

Megan Peters, Ph.D
Assistant Professor
Cognitive Science
School of Social Sciences

Dr. Peter's research aims to reveal how the brain represents and uses uncertainty, and performs adaptive computations based on noisy, incomplete information. Specifically, she focuses on how these abilities support metacognitive evaluations of the quality of (mostly perceptual) decisions, and how these processes might relate to phenomenology and conscious awareness. She uses neuroimaging, computational modeling, machine learning and neural stimulation techniques to study these topics.

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Welcome to the New CNLM Fellows - Julian Thayer, Ph.D.

Julian Thayer, Ph.D.
Distinguished Professor
Psychological Science
School of Social Ecology

Dr. Thayer's area of specialization is psychophysiological aspects of self regulation, particularly parasympathetic influences on physical and mental health including hypertension, anxiety, and depression. He is a pioneer in examining heart rate variability and had conducted numerous studies of emotional influences on memory and in memory-related disorders.

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Welcome to the New CNLM Fellows - Momoko Watanabe, Ph.D

Momoko Watanabe, Ph.D
Assistant Professor
Anatomy and Neurobiology
School of Medicine

Dr. Watanabe's research focus is centralized around 1) creating powerful organ-on-a-chip systems to improve established brain organoids, 2) developing a brain organoid model for neurodevelopmental disorders, and 3) defining the microcircuit properties of brain organoids as a model system for human brain activities.

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Welcome to the New CNLM Fellows - Michael Hasselmo, Ph.D.

Michael Hasselmo, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences
Director of the Center for Systems Neuroscience
Boston University

Dr. Hasselmo's research concerns the cortical dynamics of memory-guided behavior, including effects of neuromodulation and theta rhythm oscillations in cortical function. Neurophysiological techniques are used to analyze intrinsic and synaptic properties of cortical circuits in rodents and to explore the effects of modulators such as Acetylcholine on these properties. Computational modeling is used to link these physiological data to memory-guided behavior.

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Welcome to the New CNLM Fellows - Stephen Maren, Ph.D.

Stephen Maren, Ph.D.
Distinguished Professor and Charles H. Gregory Chair of Liberal Arts
Texas A&M University

Research in Dr. Maren's laboratory seeks to understand the brain circuits and cellular mechanisms underlying the encoding, storage, retrieval, and extinction of aversive memories, and how dysfunction in these circuits and processes contributes to anxiety disorders. Dr. Maren is focused on the neurobiology of fear conditioning and extinction in rats and mice. The hippocampus, amygdala, and prefrontal cortex, a triad of interconnected brain areas with essential roles in memory and emotion, are critical for these processes. He uses both behavioral and systems neuroscience methods to understand the brain mechanisms of fear and anxiety.

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Welcome to the New CNLM Fellows - Alicia Izquierdo, Ph.D.

Alicia Izquierdo, Ph.D.
Behavioral Neuroscience
University of California, Los Angeles

Dr. Izquierdo's main research interests center on understanding the brain mechanisms of flexible reinforcement learning and value-based decisions. Specifically, this involves exploring the impact of costs and determining the relative value of options. To that end, her lab studies these processes using a combination of behavioral, molecular, pharmacological, computational, and in vivo imaging and recording methods. More recently her lab has investigated the neurobiological basis for the role of uncertainty, risk, and reinforcement history on learning and choice. A better understanding of the basic neural mechanisms in reinforcement learning and choice behavior may contribute to our knowledge of behavioral and substance addictions, in particular.

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Welcome to the New CNLM Fellows - Benno Roozendaal, Ph.D.

Benno Roozendaal, Ph.D.
Donders Institute for Brain
Cognition and Behaviour
Radboud University Medical Center

Dr. Roozendaal's lab is focused on understanding the role of stress and emotional arousal in influencing learning and memory processes. By using animal models of learning and memory, his lab is particularly interested in examining the impact of stress hormones on brain circuits regulating memory consolidation, memory retrieval and working memory, and their possible consequences for traumatic memories, phobias and post-traumatic stress disorder.

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