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When memorable experiences occur, a particular subset of neurons is activated in the brain. In this video, ALESSIO ATTARDO analyzes how these engram neurons are created. Imaging the synapse network through which neurons connect and communicate, Attardo is able to identify distinctions between those that go on to become engram neurons and those which do not. Focusing on the hippocampus, this work calls into question existing research on the neocortex by suggesting that animals with less stable connectivity tend to be better at learn and recall. Helping us to better understand the neurological processes involved in memory formation, the research has clear applications for the treatment of people who suffer deficiencies in this area.


Holding faculty positions at a number of prestigious universities in Germany and the USA, Dr. Alessio Attardo is Group Leader in the Department of Stress Neurobiology and Neurogenetics at the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry. Having completed his doctoral work at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, Attardo spent several years at Stanford University, first as a postdoctoral fellow and later as a HHMI research specialist. Attardo’s research focuses on hippocampal plasticity as well as representation and memory during stress. With his current research being supported by a number of long term grants from the DFG, since 2019, Attardo has been invited to present his research to specialist institutes in Greece, Italy, Germany and Israel.


Max Planck Institute for Psychiatry

Das Ziel des Max-Planck-Instituts für Psychiatrie ist es, durch eine einzigartig enge Verbindung von Grundlagenforschung, klinischer Forschung und Patientenversorgung neue Erkenntnisse über die Ursachen von psychiatrischen Erkrankungen zu gewinnen und in neue diagnostische Möglichkeiten und Behandlungs- sowie Präventionsansätze umzuwandeln. Stress- und Trauma bedingte Erkrankungen wie Depression und Angsterkrankungen bilden den Schwerpunkt unserer Forschung und unserer klinischen Behandlungsangebote.

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Original publication

Hippocampal Neurons with Stable Excitatory Connectivity Become Part of Neuronal Representations

Attardo Alessio, Castello-Waldow Tim P., Weston Ghabiba, Ulivi Alessandro F., Chenani Alireza, Loewenstein Yonatan and Chen Alon
PLoS biology
Published in 2020

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