Frontiers in MBM: Gina Poe February 8

Gina PoeGina Poe, Professor of Integrative Biology & Physiology at UCLA, will lecture on a to-be-announced topic at 4:00 pm February 8 in 2269 Beckman Institute and on Zoom. An MBM trainee and PhD candidate will give an introduction.

The lecture is free and open to the public courtesy of the Miniature Brain Machinery Program.

Bio:

Gina Poe has been working since 1995 on the mechanisms through which sleep serves memory consolidation and restructuring. Dr. Poe is a southern California native who graduated from Stanford University then worked for two post-baccalaureate years at the VA researching Air Force Test Pilots’ brainwave signatures under high-G maneuvers.

She then earned her PhD in Basic Sleep in the Neuroscience Interdepartmental Program at UCLA under the guidance of Ronald Harper, then moved to the University of Arizona for her postdoctoral studies with Carol Barnes and Bruce McNaughtons looking at graceful degradation of hippocampal function in aged rats as well as hippocampal coding in a 3-D maze navigated in the 1998 space shuttle mission.

Poe has over 80 undergraduates, 6 graduate students, and 6 postdoctoral scholars, and has served in university faculty governance as well as leading 5 different programs designed to diversify the neuroscience workforce and increase representation of people of the global majority in the STEM fields. At UCLA, she continues research and teaching and Directs the COMPASS-Life Sciences and BRI-SURE programs and co-Directs the MARC-U*STAR program. Nationally, she is course director of the Marine Biological Lab’s SPINES course and co-Directs the Society for Neuroscience’s NSP program which earned the nation’s highest mentoring honor in 2018. These programs have served over 600 PhD level trainees over the years.

The Poe lab investigates the mechanisms by which sleep traits serve learning and memory consolidation. Memories are encoded by the pattern of synaptic connections between neurons. They employ tetrode recording and optogenetic techniques in learning animals to see how neural patterns underlying learning are reactivated during sleep, and how activity during sleep influences the neural memory code. Both strengthening and weakening of synapses is important to the process of sculpting a network when we make new memories and integrate them into old schema.

Results from their studies suggest that while synaptic strengthening can be efficiently accomplished during the waking learning process, the synaptic weakening part of memory integration requires conditions unique to sleep. The absence of noradrenaline during sleep spindles and REM sleep as well as the low levels of serotonin during REM sleep allow the brain to integrate new memories and to refresh and renew old synapses so that they are ready to build new associations the next waking period. Memory difficulties involved in post-traumatic stress disorder, Schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease and even autism involve abnormalities in the sleep-dependent memory consolidation process that Dr. Poe’s lab studies.

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