Brian Wiltgen, Ph.D.

Brian Wiltgen

Position Title
Associate Professor

  • Psychology
  • Center for Neuroscience

Neurobiology of Learning and Memory

Research Summary

Dr. Wiltgen studies cellular and molecular mechanisms of memory formation in the hippocampus and neocortex. He is particularly interested in systems level consolidation and the process by which new memories are stabilized and maintained over time. To examine these issues, he combines behavioral analysis (spatial and contextual learning) with pharmacology, electrophysiology, immunohistochemistry and optogenetic techniques in transgenic mice.

Select Publications

Journal Articles

Tanaka, KZ, Pevzner, A., Hamidi, A., Nakazawa, Y., Graham, J., Wiltgen, BJ. (2014) Cortical representations are reinstated by the hippocampus during memory retrieval.  Neuron, 84(2): 347-54.

Tayler, KK, Tanaka, KZ, Reijmers, LG, Wiltgen, BJ. (2013) Reactivation of neural ensembles during the retrieval of recent and remote memory. Current biology, 23(2) 99-106.

Nussbaum JM, Schilling S, Cynis H, Silva A, Swanson E, Wangsanut T, Tayler K, Wiltgen BJ, Hatami A, Rönicke R, Reymann K, Hutter-Paier B, Alexandru A, Jagla W, Graubner S, Glabe CG, Demuth HU, Bloom GS (2012). Prion-like behaviour and tau-dependent cytotoxicity of pyroglutamylated amyloid-β. Nature, 485 (7400) 651-5

Wiltgen B.J., Wood, A.N. & Levy, B. (2011). The cellular mechanisms of memory are modified by experience Learning & Memory, 18(12) 747-50.

Warthen, D.M., Wiltgen B.J. & Provencio, I. (2011). Light enhances learned fear. PNAS, 108 (33) 13788-93.

Tayler, K.K., Lowry, E., Tanaka, K., Levy, B., Reijmers, L., Mayford, M. & Wiltgen B.J. (2011). Characterization of NMDAR-independent learning in the hippocampus.  Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 5:28.

Wiltgen B.J., Zhou, M., Cai, K., Balaji, J., Guzman Karlson, M., Parivash, S., Li, W. & Silva, A.J. (2010). The hippocampus plays a selective role in the retrieval of detailed memories.  Current Biology, 20, 1336-1344.

Wiltgen, B.J., Royle, G.R., Gray, E., Abdipranoto, A., Thangthaeng, N., Jacobs, N., Saab, F., Tonegawa, S., , Heinemann, S.F., O’Dell, T., Fanselow, M.S. & Vissel, B.  (2010). A role for calcium-permeable AMPA receptors in synaptic plasticity and learning. PLoS ONE, 5 (9).

Wiltgen B.J., Godsil, B.P., Hu, N., Homanics G.E. & Fanselow M.S. (2009). The alpha1 subunit of the GABAA receptor mediates fear learning and plasticity in the lateral amydgala. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 3, 37.   

Wiltgen, B.J. & Silva, A.J. (2007). Memory for context becomes less specific with time. Learning & Memory,14, 313-7.    

Wiltgen B.J., Law, M., Ostlund, S.B., Mayford, M. & Balleine, B.W. (2007). The influence of Pavlovian cues on instrumental performance is mediated by CaMKII activity in the striatum. European Journal of Neuroscience, 25, 2491-7.  

Wiltgen, B.J., Sanders M.J., Anagnostaras, S.A., Sage, J.R. & Fanselow, M.S.  (2006). Context fear learning in the absence of the hippocampus. Journal of Neuroscience, 26, 5484-91.

Wiltgen B.J., Sanders M.J., Ferguson C., Homanics G.E., Fanselow M.S. (2005). Trace fear conditioning is enhanced in mice lacking the delta subunit of the GABAA receptor. Learning & Memory, 12, 327-333.

Matynia A., Anagnostaras S.G., Wiltgen B.J., Lacuesta M., Fanselow M.S., Silva A.J. (2008). A high through-put reverse genetic screen identifies two genes involved in remote memory in mice. PLoS ONE, 3, e2121.

Zhou Y., Takahashi E., Li W., Halt A., Wiltgen B.J., Ehninger D., Li G.D., Hell J.W., Kennedy M.B., Silva A.J. (2007). Interactions between the NR2B receptor and CaMKII modulate synaptic plasticity and spatial learning. Journal of Neuroscience, 27, 13843-53. 

Gale G.D., Anagnostaras S.G., Godsil B.P., Mitchell S., Nozawa T., Sage J.R., Wiltgen B.J., & Fanselow M.S. (2004). Role of the basolateral amygdala in the storage of fear memories across the adult lifetime of rats. Journal of Neuroscience, 24, 3810-5.

Meffert, M.K., Chang, J., Wiltgen, B.J., Fanselow, M.S. & Baltimore, D. (2003). Synaptic control of transcription by translocation of NF-kB from dendrites to nucleus. Nature Neuroscience, 6, 1072-8.

Wiltgen, B.J., Sanders, M.J., Behne, N.S. & Fanselow, M.S. (2001). Sex differences, context preexposure, and the immediate shock deficit in Pavlovian context conditioning with mice. Behavioral Neuroscience, 115, 26-32.

Review Papers

Tayler, KK, Wiltgen, BJ. (2013) New methods for understanding systems consolidation. Learn Mem, 20(10):553-7.

Wiltgen BJ, Tanaka KZ. (2013) Systems consolidation and the content of memory. Neurobiol Learn Mem, 106:365-71.


Wiltgen B.J., Brown R.A., Talton L.E. & Silva A.J. (2004). New circuits for old memories: the role of the neocortex in consolidation. Neuron, 44, 101-8.

Sanders, M.J., Wiltgen, B.J. & Fanselow, M.S. (2003). The place of the hippocampus in fear conditioning. European Journal of Pharmacology, 463, 217-23.

Book Chapters

Wiltgen, B.J., Brown, A.M., Talton, L.E. & Silva, A.J. (2007). Towards a molecular and cellular understanding of remote memory. In B. Bontempi, A.J. Silva, Y. Christen (Eds.), Memories: Molecules and Circuits (59-67). Springer: New York.   

Shilyansky, C., Wiltgen, B.J., & Silva, A.J. (2007). Neurofibromatosis Type I learning disabilities. In J.H. Byrne, H. Eichenbaum, R. Menzel, H. Roedinger, D. Sweatt (Eds.), Learning and Memory: A Comprehensive Reference. Elsevier: Oxford. 

Wiltgen, B.J. & Fanselow, M.S. (2003). A model of hippocampal-cortical-amygdala interactions based on context fear conditioning. In K.J. Jeffery (Ed.), The Neurobiology of Spatial Behaviour (83-103). Oxford University Press: Oxford.