Gina Poe




research interests:  Investigating the mechanisms by which sleep traits serve learning and memory consolidation


BA, Human Biology, Stanford University 1987
Ph.D., Neuroscience, UCLA 1995

Research Interests

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. We 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 our 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 we 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 my lab studies. Keywords: Sleep, learning and memory, PTSD, memory consolidation, reconsolidation, REM sleep, sleep spindles, Norepinephrine, LTP, depotentiation, reversal learning, optogenetics, electrophysiology, tetrode recordings, hippocampus, prefrontal cortex.

Selected Publications

Swift KM, Gross BA, Frazer M, Bauer DS, Vazey E, Aston-Jones G, Li Y, Pickering AE, Eschenko O, Sara SJ, Poe GR, "Elimination of Locus Coeruleus silences during sleep alters learning and sleep spindle density", Current Biology, 28 (22): 3599-3609 (2018) .

Zaborszky L, Gombkoto P, Varsanyi P, Poe GR, Role L, Ananth M, Rajebhosale P, Talmage D, Hasselmo M, Dannenberg H, Minces V, Chiba A, "Specific basal forebrain-cortical cholinergic circuits coordinate cognitive operations", J Neurosci, 38 (44): 9446-9458 (2018) .

Lewis P, Knoblich G, Poe GR, "Recasting reality: how memory replay in sleep boosts creative problem solving", Trends Cogni Sci, 22 (6): 491-503 (2018) .

Bjorness TE, Booth V, Poe GR, "Theta dynamics reveal REM homeostasis", Archives of Italian Biology, 156 : 112-127 (2018) .

Poe GR, "Sleep is for forgetting", J Neurosci, 37 (3): 464-473 (2017) .

Javanbakht, A and Poe, GR, "Behavioral neuroscience of circuits involved in arousal regulation", The Neurobiology of PTSD, Ressler, K and Liberzon, I(Eds.), 130-147 (2016) .

Emrick JJ, Gross BA, Riley BT, Poe GR, "Different simultaneous sleep states in the hippocampus and neocortex", Sleep, 39 (12): 2201-2209 (2016) .

Gross BA, Vanderheyden WM, Urpa LM*, Davis DE*, Fitzpatrick CJ, Prabhu K*, Poe GR, "Stress-free automatic sleep deprivation using air puffs", J Neurosci Methods, 251 : 83-91 (2015) .

Vanderheyden WM, George S, Urpa L*, Liberzon I, Poe GR, "Sleep alterations following exposure to stress predict fear-associated memory impairments in a rodent model of PTSD", Exp Br Res, 233 (8): 2335-2346 (2015) .

Corsi-Cabrera M, Poe GR, "The role of sleep in processing emotional and contextual information: from mechanism to impact on everyday life and emotional health", Exp Brain Res, 232 (5): 1399-1401 (2014) .