Aaron A. Wilber
check Recruiting a graduate student for Fall of 2024
Indiana University, 2005
Currently our laboratory has two main areas of focus:
1) Understanding the neurobiological mechanisms that allow us to derive a sense of location from a body-centered view of the world and how these same systems participate in learning and memory. A critical role of this brain network is to update our internal map of the environment when there is a conflict with the external environment (something we experience when getting reoriented after being lost).
2) This work exploring normal mechanisms is informing parallel research on how these neural networks are altered by mental disorders and memory disorders such as Alzheimer's disease.
These areas of focus are designed to advance our progress towards a long term goal to use maternal separation as a model to assess the contribution of neonatal stress to the development of mental and age-related cognitive disorders. To accomplish this goal we use custom 3D printed recording arrays to monitor many single cells in multiple brain regions and simultaneously record population related neural activity (local field potentials). We also use optogenetics to manipulation specific circuits, semi-automated density based measures of brain connectivity, and mouse models of disease (e.g., Alzheimer's). These approaches are applied in the context of behavioral tasks performed in rodents that are navigating freely moving or in virtual environments.
Previously, we used a model of adverse early experience, maternal separation, and a simple type of motor learning, eyeblink conditioning, to assess neonatal stress programming of adult learning and memory. More recent research has been directed at understanding a brain network for performing coordinate transformation between person-centered and world-centered representations of the external environment. This network was predicted by two computational models, and includes the posterior parietal cortex, the hippocampus and structures in-between. We are also exploring the role of this parietal-hippocampal network in learning and remembering spatial sequences using behavioral tasks and by assessing memory replay during rest.
- How do we derive a sense of location from a body-centered view of the world?
- How are brain circuits involved in spatial learning and memory altered by neonatal perturbations, mental and neurological disorders?
- Can we mimic impairments observed in disease and disorder by circuit specific manipulations to the underlying neural network?
Research focuses on a parietal-hippocampal computational network that allows us to derive a sense of location from a body-centered view of the world and how these same systems participate in learning and memory. Parallel research is exploring how these normal neural networks are altered by mental disorders and age-related cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer's disease.
Wilber, A. A., Skelin, I., Wu, W., & McNaughton, B.L. (2017) Laminar organization of encoding and memory reactivation in the parietal cortex. Neuron, 95, 1406-1419.
Mesina L., Wilber A. A., Clark B. J., Dube S., Demecha A. J., Stark C. E., McNaughton B. L., (2016). A methodological pipeline for serial-section imaging and tissue realignment for whole-brain functional and connectivity assessment. Journal of Neuroscience Methods, 266, 151-160.
Wilber, A. A., Clark, B. J., Demecah, A. J., Mesina, L., Vos, J. M. & McNaughton, B. L. (2015). Automated cortical connectivity maps reveal anatomically distinct areas in the parietal cortex of the rat. Frontiers in Neural Circuits, 8, 1-15.
Wilber, A. A., Clark, B. J., Forster, T.C., Tatsuno, M. & McNaughton, B.L. (2014) Interaction of egocentric and world-centered reference frames in the rat posterior parietal cortex. The Journal of Neuroscience, 34, 5431-5446.
Wilber, A. A., Walker, A.G., Southwood, C. J., Rebec, G. V., & Wellman, C. L. (2011). Chronic stress alters neural activity in medial prefrontal cortex during retrieval of extinction. Neuroscience, 174, 115-131.
Wilber, A. A., Lin, G.L., & Wellman, C. L. (2010). Glucocorticoid receptor blockade in the posterior interpositus nucleus reverses maternal separation-induced deficits in adult eyeblink conditioning. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, 94, 263-268.
Wilber, A. A., & Wellman, C. L. (2009). Neonatal maternal separation alters development of glucocorticoid receptor expression in the interpositus nucleus of the cerebellum. International Journal of Developmental Neuroscience, 27, 649-654.
Wilber, A. A., & Wellman, C. L. (2009). Neonatal maternal separation alters adult eyeblink conditioning and glucocorticoid receptor expression in cerebellar interpositus nucleus interneurons. Neuroscience Letters, 460, 214-218.
Wilber, A. A., Southwood, C. J., & Wellman, C. L. (2009). Brief neonatal maternal separation alters extinction of conditioned fear and prefrontal NMDA receptor expression in adult rats. Developmental Neurobiology, 69, 73-87.
Wilber, A. A., Southwood, C. J., Sokoloff, G., Steinmetz, J. E., & Wellman, C. L. (2007). Neonatal maternal separation alters adult eyeblink conditioning and glucocorticoid receptor expression in the interpositus nucleus of the cerebellum. Developmental Neurobiology, 67, 1751-1764.