PhD, The University of Virginia
Neurobiology of Learning and Memory
Information acquired during daily encounters is not readily encoded into memory, but requires some effort or rehearsal to be preserved. In contrast, experiences that are either arousing or emotionally meaningful in content appear to be permanently stored into memory without conscious effort. My research is aimed at understanding the effect of emotional arousal on memory storage. Research findings to date indicate that events that are sufficiently arousing to be remembered for the long-term lead to activation of the amygdala. This amygdala activation may, in turn, initiate long-term memory storage by influencing synaptic strength in other areas of the brain, such as the hippocampus and cortex. I am currently using in vivo microdialysis, western blots, immunohistochemstry and in situ hybridization to better understand how emotion-induced amygdala activity may modulate the expression of synaptic proteins in areas that underlie memory storage.
This research is aimed at gaining information regarding the neuronal signals that determine whether a memory will be stored for the long term and may shed some light on the precise mechanisms involved in the synaptic changes that underlie memory. Such knowledge may ultimately be used to benefit individuals suffering from various memory disorders including Alzheimer's disease and post traumatic stress disorder.
Peña D.F., Engineer N.D., McIntyre C.K. Rapid Remission of Conditioned Fear Expression with Extinction Training Paired with Vagus Nerve Stimulation. Biological Psychiatry, 2012 Dec 12. pii: S0006-3223(12)00943-2. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2012.10.021 (Epub ahead of print).
McReynolds J.R., McIntyre C.K. Emotional modulation of the synapse. Reviews in Neuroscience, 2012;23(5-6):449-61.
Holloway, C.M.; McReynolds, J.R. and McIntyre, C.K. Memory-enhancing intra-basolateral amygdala infusions of clenbuterol increase Arc and CaMKII-alpha protein expression in the rostral anterior cingulate cortex. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, (2012) 6:17.