My laboratory studies the biological mechanisms of memory. In particular, we focus on the identification and characterization of the biological mechanisms that accompany long-term memory formation, storage and retrieval. Memory is a fundamental biological function and a critical component of our identity. Understanding the biological changes that underlie the formation and storage of long-term memory is important for developing strategies that change memory strength. Such knowledge may lead to therapeutic approaches for memory loss including those occurring in aging and Alzheimer's disease as well as for memory disorders due to pathogenically strong memories, such as those occurring in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In order to become long-term memory, newly acquired information undergoes a number of changes that require the activation of cascades of gene expression. This is a universal feature of long-term memory processes, which, in fact, is found in several different forms of memory and is conserved throughout evolution. I am currently interested in 3 main questions: what are the nature and functions of the genes and proteins that, in different brain areas, play a critical role in long-term memory formation? How do these biological changes evolve over time? And, which are the biological mechanisms that accompany memory reorganization after retrieval? Stored memories can in fact become temporarily vulnerable if they are retrieved (reactivated). This phase of vulnerability after recall provides an opportunity for interventions that can either decrease or strengthen memories and prevent memory loss.
Please visit my lab: Alberini Lab