2013 Finalist Daniel Bendor, Ph.D., Institute of Behavioral Neuroscience Department of Cognitive, Perceptual, and Brain Sciences University College London

Daniel Bendor is a lecturer in the Department of Cognitive, Perceptual, and Brain Sciences and the Institute of Behavioral Neuroscience at University College London. Dr. Bendor received his Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University under the mentorship of Xiaoqin Wang, studying temporal processing in auditory cortex and the neural correlate of pitch and flutter perception. For his postdoctoral research, he investigated the role of the hippocampus in memory encoding and consolidation, while working with Matthew Wilson at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  He has recently started his own lab at University College London, where his research focuses on how neural ensembles encode perceptual and memory-related information.

Play it again, brain
Newly formed memories become stabilized through a process referred to as memory consolidation.  The hippocampus plays a critical role in this stabilization process, potentially by replaying the memory trace repeatedly during offline states, such as sleep. Can we control the content of these memory traces that are replayed during sleep, in turn allowing us to strengthen certain recent memories selectively?  To examine this, Dr. Bendor trained rats on an auditory-spatial association task while recording from an ensemble of neurons in the hippocampus. He found that during sleep, playing a task-related auditory cue biases subsequent reactivation events toward replaying the spatial memory associated with that cue. These results demonstrate that the content of sleep replay can be biased by external stimulation and provide a potential mechanism by which recent memories can be selectively strengthened.

For Dr. Bendor’s full essay, see Science Online at sciencemag.org.