Dr. Allen is the Director of the Neurocircuitry & Cognition Lab in the Cognitive Neuroscience Program and Department of Psychology at Florida International University. The lab focuses on neurobiological mechanisms of cognition and mental health disorders, placing an emphasis on the role of long-range connections between the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex. The lab conducts research with animal models of human cognition which allows the use of biological tools not otherwise available in exclusively human experiments. The overarching goal of the lab is to understand how circuits in the hippocampus and medial prefrontal cortex interact through long range projections enabling learning, memory, and behavior. The experimental strategy is to record neural activity in freely-behaving animals while simultaneously using cutting-edge genetic and pharmacological approaches to manipulate neural activity in specific circuit pathways. Additionally, functional neuroimaging and tractography is used in human clinical populations via our close collaborations with colleagues in the Cognitive Neuroscience Program and the Department of Psychology. These cross-species collaborations help translate the neurobiological findings found in the animal experiments to human populations. Connections between the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex are known to be abnormal in several mental health disorders (e.g., Alzheimer’s disease and ADHD).
Key Research Areas:
Learning & memory, episodic memory, behavioral neuroscience, comparative neuroscience, in vivo electrophysiology, network oscillations, circuit analysis, anatomical tracing, hippocampus, nucleus reuniens, thalamus, medial prefrontal cortex