Visualizing forgetful neurons: A first study on the long-term stability and instability of cellular representations of spatial memory in aged brains

2012 senior Scholar Award in aging

It is well known the aged brain is prone to memory loss, but the exact reasons why remain mysterious. Improved knowledge of how and why the brain become less proficient in storing memories during aging may prove critical towards designing counteractive strategies. Many of the challenges in obtaining this knowledge have been of a technological nature, and in this research the Schnitzer laboratory will capitalize on two new technologies for imaging the mammalian brain. Together, these two approaches will enable unprecedented studies of the hippocampus, a brain area crucial for the formation of episodic memories, regarding both the neural circuitry and means of encoding memories. We will directly compare young adult and aged brains, towards revealing key differences, and will examine the means by which pharmacological agents known to enhance cognition exert their effects.

Mark Schnitzer Ph.D.
Stanford University