Understanding and disrupting fear memory in the brain

Fear memory, like that occurring in post-traumatic stress disorder, imposes pronounced health and financial burdens. Our laboratory seeks to understand and therapeutically disrupt the neurobiological elements of fear memory. 

To do this, we take a multidisciplinary approach that combines cutting-edge experimental and computational techniques. To begin, in mice that have obtained fear memory in a laboratory setting, we measure the expression of every gene in the mouse genome for thousands of individual brain neurons. From these Big Data, we identify genes and neuron types that participate in fear memory. Using genetic and pharmacologic approaches, we manipulate these genes and neuron types with the aim of disrupting fear memory in a safe, acute, and precise way.

The results of this research will provide a comprehensive understanding of the basic biology of memory, help to innovate novel targets and approaches for disrupting fear memory, and generate a framework with which other anxiety and memory disorders may be interpreted. In the long term, we aim for these results to guide the generation of new therapeutic approaches for preventing traumatic fear memory in humans.