Research in the James Knierim Laboratory attempts to understand the flow of information through... the hippocampal formation and the computations performed by the various subfields of the hippocampus and its inputs from the entorhinal cortex. To address these issues, we use multi-electrode arrays to record the extracellular action potentials from scores of well-isolated hippocampal neurons in freely moving rats.
These neurons, or "place cells," are selectively active when the rat occupies restricted locations in its environment and help to form a cognitive map of the environment. The animal uses this map to navigate efficiently in its environment and to learn and remember important locations. These cells are thought to play a major role in the formation of episodic (autobiographical) memories. Place cells thus constitute a tremendous opportunity to investigate the mechanisms by which the brain transforms sensory input into an internal, cognitive representation of the world and then uses this representation as the framework that organizes and stores memories of past events.view more
Dr. Raul Chavez-Valdez is an assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics with great int...erest in the mechanisms of delayed injury and repair/regeneration in the developing neonatal brain following injury, specifically following hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (birth asphyxia). He collaborates with Dr. Frances Northington (Pediatrics) and Dr. Lee Martin (Pathology/Neuroscience) in unveiling the importance of programmed necrosis in the setting of brain injury induced by birth asphyxia. He is especially interested in the role of brain derived neurotrophic factor and neurotrophin-4 following birth asphyxia and the changes that may explain the suspected excitatory/ inhibitory (E/I) imbalance particularly in the hippocampus. His work is highly translational since delayed hippocampal injury due to E/I imbalance may explain memory deficits observed despite therapeutic hypothermia in neonates suffering birth asphyxia. All of these aspects of developmental neuroplasticity are the base of his Career Development Award (NIH/NINDS-K08 award) and applications to other agencies. Additionally, he is part of multiple clinical efforts as part of the Neuroscience Intensive Care Nursery (NICN). He has been a Sutland-Pakula Endowed Fellow of Neonatal Research since September 2013.view more