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Discovering Curiosity: Making Music, Studying Memory with Charan Ranganath

October 03, 2018

An audio clip from the Apollo 11 launch plays amid static. “Ignition sequence start,” a voice says. “Six, five, four, three…” As the countdown continues, the feedback swells in the background, as if an amplifier’s volume knob is slowly being turned up. “All engines running,” the voice says. “Liftoff.”

UC Davis neuroscientists advance learning and memory research to decode how our brains work

August 02, 2018

For astrophysicists, the final frontier is outer space, but ask a neuroscientist, and the greatest quest for scientific exploration lies within your brain. 

Vastly more advanced than any supercomputer, the complexity and versatility of the human brain is awe-inspiring. Of all its abilities, learning from new experiences might be the most powerful and astounding feature. But how does learning occur? And how do we remember what we learn? 

Why You Forget Names Immediately—And How to Remember Them

July 26, 2018

Of all the social gaffes, none is perhaps more common than meeting a new person, exchanging names and promptly forgetting theirs — forcing you to either swallow your pride and ask again, or languish in uncertainty forever.

Why do we keep making this mistake? There are a few potential explanations, says Charan Ranganath, the director of the Memory and Plasticity Program at the University of California, Davis.

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How Experience Changes Basics of Memory Formation

July 23, 2018

We know instinctively that our experiences shape the way we learn. If we are highly familiar with a particular task, like cooking for example, learning a new recipe is much easier than it was when we were a novice. New research from the University of California, Davis, shows that experience also changes the way our neurons become plastic and form new memories.  

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David L. Weaver Award Creates Opportunities for Neuroscience Researchers

June 28, 2018

While studying linguistics at the University of Geneva, Elena (Lin) Weaver had a job working as a bubble chamber scanner at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, otherwise known as CERN. Each four-hour shift, Lin would glimpse pictures of high-energy particles smashing together and breaking apart, tracking the particles’ trajectories. It was a whole new world for the language lover.

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Discovering Curiosity: Age-Related Hearing Loss

June 06, 2018

As our bodies age, we all face some decline in our senses, and among the senses most susceptible to deterioration is hearing.

Hearing loss is a substantial problem for society. It’s the third most common physical condition after arthritis and heart disease and about 30 percent of adults between ages 65 and 74 and nearly half of people over 75 experience some difficulty hearing.  It’s a social problem, one that can lead to isolation and depression.

Learning Enhances Synapses Between “Memory Cells” in Mice

April 26, 2018

When making memories, certain neurons form larger, denser connections, according to a study published today (April 26) in Science.

Scientists have long attempted to understand where, and how, the brain stores memories. At the beginning of the 20th century, German scientist Richard Semon coined the term “engram” to describe the hypothetical physical representations of memories in the brain.

Jennifer Whistler: On the Search for Safer Opioids

March 08, 2018

The opioid epidemic has been called the “deadliest drug crisis in American history” by the New York Times. Overdoses claim the lives of more than 90 Americans each day, and about two million people battle substance abuse disorders stemming from prescription opioids, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Real-Life Alumni: Richard Addante, ’11 Ph.D., HERA Crew Member, NASA

December 06, 2017

When Richard Addante, ’11 Ph.D., neuroscience, was 7, his mother took him to see the space shuttle Columbia launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida. At that moment, his lifelong dream to become an astronaut was born. He became enamored with space, building model rockets and devouring books on the subject.

“It was so exciting for a young boy, and it ignited a spark in me that has continued to burn with a passion to explore our world and beyond,” said Addante.

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NIH Grant Supports Collaborative UC Effort to Visualize Brain Learning

December 06, 2017

A three-year, roughly $1.2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health BRAIN Initiative, will aid a team of researchers at UC Davis and UC Berkeley, led by Associate Professor Karen Zito, Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior in the College of Biological Sciences, in developing new brain imaging tools to visualize how synaptic connections between neurons shift during learning.

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Advocating a Computational Shift in Neuroscience Training

December 04, 2017

How can universities best prepare students for a career in neuroscience? Ask Professor Mark Goldman, Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior and the Center for Neuroscience, and he’ll tell you it’s time to rethink the traditional biology curriculum. To unravel complex systems like the brain, students need advanced training in quantitative and computational techniques.

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Michael Sramek Receives Excellence in STEM Award

November 03, 2017

Michael Sramek, a genetics and genomics junior in the College of Biological Sciences, received the 2017-2018 Excellence in STEM Award, which honors a UC Davis transfer student with high academic performance.

“I feel honored and humbled to receive this award,” said Sramek, who plans to graduate in 2018. “It’s fantastic to receive recognition for the work

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