How do past learning, memory, and emotional experience impact subsequent cognitive function?
We investigate persistent synaptic circuit function changes after emotional experience and cognitive learning to understand cognitive dynamics during brain development.
Specifically, the adolescent brain is characterized by functional flexibility and structural sensitivity. Compared to the adult brain, the teenage brain shows a significantly higher level of neurogenesis, which is vulnerable to social stress. Social stress decreases hippocampal neurogenesis and impairs social cognition. Anatomical studies demonstrated that specific inhibitory synapses onto pyramidal neurons in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex strengthen in adolescence. Adolescent social stress decreases neurogenesis leading to persistent deficits in spatial memory and social cognition. CoLD lab studies how negative or positive social/cognitive experience in adolescents regulates neurogenesis-dependent neuronal plasticity and brain synchrony leading to impaired or improved cognitive functions, respectively.
Related publications: Chung et al., Nature, 2021, Chung et al., Learning and Memory, 2017, Chung et al., Learning and Memory, 2017