New review: Have we found the engram?

There’s been a flurry of recent papers on the engram– observing it, erasing it, and even artificially activating it. Have these new studies actually found the elusive engram? We review the evidence in this new Nature Reviews Neuroscience paper.nrn1

Dr. Calm

Without any fluster, Adam Santoro successfully defended his PhD on Monday. He’s the seventh PhD from the Frankland lab. In his thesis he developed a model to describe complementary contributions of episodic and semantic systems to memory expression. We thank external examiner Brian Wiltgen for joining us from UC Davis, and congratulate Adam on an outstanding defense of an outstanding thesis. Next stop for Adam: Google DeepMind. We will miss you!adam

Japanese Neuroscience 2015

Karl Peter Giese , Brian Wiltgen, Mauro Costa-Mattioli and Satoshi Kida in Tokyo on Monday. More pictures to followsushi 2015.


For Leonardo’s Journal of Neuroscience paper we submitted some images for the cover. We got beaten out by an organotypic slice culture. Here’s two versions of the cover that never was…jn covers leo

New paper: Making connections

Throughout life, new neurons are continuously being added to to the hippocampus. How do these new neurons integrate into established circuits without disturbing information already stored in those circuits? In a new paper, Leonardo Restivo tracked how these new neurons form connections. His analyses revealed that the pattern of connections changes as a function of cell age. In particular, when the cells are young and more excitable, they form preferential connections onto inhibitory interneurons in the CA3 region of the hippocampus. But as they mature (and excitability levels wane) these connections weaken. These results suggest that connections with local inhibitory microcircuits serves to buffer the youthful exuberance of new neurons (and potentially protect information stored in these circuits). The paper is published in this week’s Journal of Neuroscience.jn leo

Blue Jays 2015 version

The annual lab outing to see the Blue Jays has been going on since 2003. This year we saw the Blue Jays lose to the Red Sox. But the roof was open, and the beer was only $12 a can. We ♥ Toronto in the summer!blue jays 2015

Summer BBQ

summer bbq 2015It started raining at lunchtime yesterday in Toronto (and still hasn`t stopped). This can mean only one thing– it`s time for our annual lab summer bbq. Members and friends of the Frankland and Josselyn labs gathered (indoors) and also paid tribute to John Yeomans (Paul’s PhD advisor)– recently retired from Psychology at U of T.

Arrivederci Leo!

leo june 2015We bid a fond farewell this week to Leonardo Restivo. Leo joined the lab in 2009 and, among other things, 1) detailed how newborn neurons establish output connectivity with local inhibitory circuits in the hippocampus*, 2)  founded hubbian (with Chen Yan) and 3) hacked into SfN abstracts developed a way better way of searching SfN abstracts and made it freely available to the world! We wish Leo the best!

* with impeccable timing, the paper was just accepted for publication in Journal of Neuroscience the day after Leo left.

New paper: Clearer CLARITY

clarity fig 3About 2 years ago Kwanghun Chung and Karl Deisseroth wowed the world with their new tissue clearing technique– CLARITY. By removing light scattering lipids from brains, this technique allowed whole brains to be imaged at cellular resolution. Nonetheless, there were some kinks to be worked out, and over the last 2 years Jonathan Epp and Yosuke Niibori have been working furiously to get cleared brains (as well as other organs) clearer. The lab has occasionally resembled a Victorian museum with jars of pickled organs, but the results of their efforts is an improved CLARITY protocol for clearing brains. This protocol is now published in eNeuro.

Canadian Neuroscience in Vancouver

Last month Canadian neuroscientists assembled in Vancouver for their annual meeting. There were plenary prfesentations from (among others) Karel Svoboda, Meyant Mehta and Mel Goodale and posters presentations from lab members Valentina Mercaldo, Gisella Vetere and Frances Xia (pictured below). More pictures (when I get around to it…)can2015.jpg