My lab studies the neurobiological substrates of emotional learning and memory, with particular emphasis on Pavlovian fear conditioning. This type of associative learning has received considerable experimental attention from both basic and clinical neuroscientists over the last decade not only because of its simplicity and tractability as a neurobiological model of learning and memory, but also because of its potential relevance for understanding the mechanisms underlying the development of psychological disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A major focus of my lab is the study of the cellular and molecular events that contribute to fear memory consolidation, or the process by which newly acquired, initially unstable fear memories are transformed in the brain into stable long-term memories. A second major focus is that of fear memory reconsolidation, or the process by which retrieval of an established fear memory triggers a new phase of instability during which time the memory may be updated (e.g. strengthened or weakened) prior to being re-stabilized. A third focus is how exposure to chronic stress alters fear memory consolidation and reconsolidation processes in the brain. A full understanding of the cellular and molecular events underlying both the consolidation of new fear memories and the reconsolidation of well-established fear memories holds considerable promise of discovering novel therapeutic and/or pharmacological approaches for the treatment of disorders such PTSD in which acquired and persistently reactivated fears play a prominent role. Most of my work focuses on the amygdala, a temporal lobe structure that has been implicated in emotion and emotional learning for many years. Work in my lab utilizes a multidisciplinary approach that includes behavioral, anatomical, electrophysiological, and biochemical techniques.
Maddox, S.A., Watts, C.S., Doyère, V. & Schafe, G.E. (2013). A naturally-occurring histone acetyltransferase inhibitor derived from Garcinia indica impairs newly acquired and reactivated fear memories. PloS ONE, 8(1): e54463. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0054463.
Maddox, S.A., Watts, C.S. & Schafe, G.E. (2013). p300/CBP histone acetyltransferase activity is required for newly acquired and reactivated fear memories in the lateral amygdala. Learning & Memory, 20, 109-119.
Monsey, M.S., Ota, K.T., Akingbade, I.F., Hong, E.S. & Schafe, G.E. (2011). Epigenetic alterations are critical for fear memory consolidation and synaptic plasticity in the lateral amygdala. PloS ONE, 6(5): e19958. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0019958.
Maddox, S.A. & Schafe, G.E. (2011). The activity-regulated cytoskeletal-associated protein (Arc/Arg3.1) is required for reconsolidation of a Pavlovian fear memory. The Journal of Neuroscience, 31, 7073-82.
Overeem, K.A., Ota, K.T., Monsey, M.S., Ploski, J.E., & Schafe, G.E. (2010). A role for nitric oxide-driven retrograde signaling in the consolidation of a fear memory. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, doi: 10.3389/neuro.08.002.2010.
Ploski, J.E., Pierre, V.J., Smucny, J., Park, K., Monsey, M.S., Overeem, K.A. & Schafe, G.E. (2008). Activity-regulated cytoskeletal-associated protein (Arc/Arg3.1) is required for memory consolidation of Pavlovian fear conditioning in the lateral amygdala. The Journal of Neuroscience, 28, 12383-12395.