ICLM Journal Club

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This Week - 22 March 2019 (9:30 a.m., Gonda 2nd Floor Conference Room)

Speaker: Pamela Kennedy

Title: Molecular Plasticity and Memory Function in Cocaine Abuse

Abstract: Psychostimulant abuse causes long-lasting neuroplastic changes across brain networks that mediate motivation and reward, decision-making, behavioral flexibility, and learning and memory. Learned behaviors are regulated by both cognitive/goal-directed and habit memory circuits in the brain. Disruption in the balance between these systems is a persistent and pervasive symptom of the addicted phenotype that may contribute to both the development and maintenance of drug addiction, as well as therapeutic challenges. Whether maladaptive behaviors characteristic of drug abuse are supported by enhancements in habit memory systems, impairments in goal-directed memory systems or a combination of both remains poorly understood. Less is known about the molecular and transcriptional adaptations supporting cocaine-induced neuroanatomical shifts in behavioral learning and control. In this talk I will present data demonstrating that following prolonged cocaine abstinence new behavioral learning is acquired by an inflexible, habit memory system (dorsolateral striatum, DLS) in lieu of a more flexible, easily updated memory system involving the hippocampus (HPC). We find that this “memory system bias” is associated with both enhanced and repressed transcriptional activation in the DLS and HPC, which in turn may promote the capture of new learning by the DLS memory system. Finally, I will discuss new evidence suggesting that these behavioral and molecular adaptations may be mediated through a common epigenetic mechanism involving upregulation of the X-linked transcriptional repressor methyl CPG binding protein 2 (MeCP2) in both the DLS and HPC. These results provide new insight into the persistent effects of cocaine on behavioral learning and may ultimately contribute to the development and refinement of both cognitive and pharmacological therapies for treating cocaine addiction.

Relevant Paper(s): A review paper pertaining to this sub-field of 'learning and memory'


About Us


The Integrative Center for Learning and Memory (ICLM) is a multidisciplinary center of UCLA labs devoted to understanding the neural basis of learning and memory and its disorders. This will require a unified approach across different levels of analysis, including;

1. Elucidating the molecular cellular and systems mechanisms that allow neurons and synapses to undergo the long-term changes that ultimately correspond to 'neural memories'.

2. Understanding how functional dynamics and computations emerge from complex circuits of neurons, and how plasticity governs these processes.

3. Describing the neural systems in which different forms of learning and memory take place, and how these systems interact to ultimately generate behavior and cognition.

History of ICLM

The Integrative Center for Learning and Memory formally LMP started in its current form in 1998, and has served as a platform for many interactions and collaborations within UCLA. A key event organized by the group is the weekly ICLM Journal Club. For more than 10 years, graduate students, postdocs, principal investigators, and invited speakers have presented on topics ranging from the molecular mechanisms of synaptic plasticity, through computational models of learning, to behavior and cognition. Dean Buonomano oversees the ICLM journal club with help of student/post doctoral organizers. For other events organized by ICLM go to http://www.iclm.ucla.edu/Events.html.

Current Organizers:

Shonali Dhingra

Current Faculty Advisor:

Dean Buonomano

Past Organizers:

i) Anna Matynia(Aug 2004 - Jun 2008) (Silva Lab)

ii) Robert Brown (Aug 2008 - Jun 2009) (Balleine Lab)

iii) Balaji Jayaprakash (Aug 2008 - Nov 2011) (Silva Lab)

iv) Justin Shobe & Thomas Rogerson (Dec 2011 - June 2013) (Silva Lab)

v) Walt Babiec (O'Dell Lab) (2013-2014)

vi) Walt Babiec (O'Dell Lab) & Helen Motanis (Buonomano Lab) (2014-2017)

vii) Helen Motanis (Buonomano Lab) & Shonali Dhingra (Mehta Lab) (2017-2018)

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