Ria Khera L&S Sciences
Understanding Mechanisms Behind Memory Cells in PTSD Susceptibility
Memories in the brain are encoded in specialized neurons called “engram cells,” which are active during an initial event and the recall of that event. Little is known about how these cells form, but exposure to traumatic stress has previously been linked to an increase in the number of engram cells. The goal of my research is to examine the formation of engram cells in multiple areas of the brain after exposure to stress and determine if the increased presence of these cells results in PTSD-like behavior in mice. Understanding the beginning of engram formation will allow for a better understanding of how individuals respond to stress and the neural mechanism that results in maladaptive methods of handling stress. Over the summer, I will subject mice to stress by exposing them to a chronic social defeat stress paradigm, performing a series of behavior tests, and comparing the molecular markers for engram cells in their brains. I hope that this project brings us one step closer to understanding the neural basis of PTSD.