Edward Han Research Abstract

The goal of our work is to understand how neuronal activity in a critical region of the brain, the hippocampus, leads to learning. While it is known that a functioning hippocampus is required for several types of learning and memory, it remains unclear how activity in the hippocampus leads to learning.

To investigate this question, we monitor network activity from awake, behaving animals learning a spatial navigation task in virtual reality. Using two-photon calcium imaging in these animals, we can simultaneously measure the activity of hundreds of neurons at the cellular scale with high spatio-temporal resolution. Alternatively, or in combination with imaging, we use in vivo electophysiology to measure the spiking behavior of neurons, as well as oscillations in the local field potential of learning animals.

Applying these tools will allow us to test relationship between hippocampal activity and learning at the cellular, network, and behavioral levels. Furthermore using the results of these studies, we hope to manipulate network activity to enhance or restore hippocampal function, which is impaired in several neurological and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer`s.