Dr Oliver Hardt is a Chancellor’s Fellow at the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Cognitive and Neural Systems.
The brain forgets facts, memories and experiences. Typically, this is seen as a failure of one or more of the basic memory processes, such as memory acquisition, formation, maintenance and retrieval. Indeed, while memory loss may reflect failures it is possible that well-organised forgetting processes exist that bear functional significance for the normal or healthy working of the memory.
EXPLORING THE NEUROBIOLOGY OF FORGETTING
My laboratory is dedicated to study the molecular basis of memory maintenance and forgetting. We explore the role of forgetting in normal as well as pathological memory loss.
Recently, we have found that a protein called kinase PKMζ in the rat hippocampus maintains long-term memory for the location of recently explored object.
We established that this protein sustains memory by regulating GluA2-AMPAR trafficking and we found that memory strength positively correlates with post-synaptic GluA2-AMPAR levels. We then demonstrated that post-synaptic removal of GluA2- AMPARs underpins decay-like forgetting of long-term memory in the hippocampus.
My research now aims to characterise decay pathways; determine the function of sleep in decay, examine the functional role of decay, relate constitutive forgetting and pathological memory loss, as seen in Alzheimer’s disease.