Mehan Leubner

Mehan LeubnerLisman Laboratory
Department of Biology
Brandeis University

The Molecular Basis of Memory: Calcium-Calmodulin-Dependent Protein Kinase II (CaMKII) Is Necessary for the Maintenance of Long-Term Potentiation and Behavioral Memory

Poster Abstract

Long-term potentiation (LTP) is a leading hypothesis for the mechanism of memory and involves induction, maintenance, and expression processes. The aim of this research project was to reveal the role of Calcium/Calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII) in the maintenance mechanisms of LTP. This aim was addressed through the use of an erasure test in vivo by applying a transient dominant-negative form of CaMKII (K42M) to the CA1 region of the rat hippocampus. K42M was applied after the rat was trained using conditioned place aversion, a hippocampal-dependent form of memory. Memory retention was then tested a week later. The rats injected with K42M entered the shock zone during retention testing more quickly and frequently as compared with the rats injected with GFP, indicating that this form of behavioral memory can be erased by this procedure. Rats from both groups were capable of relearning. This is the first demonstration of the reversal of memory.

Personal Statement

I came to Brandeis for a visit whilst looking at colleges and immediately fell in love with all Brandeis had to offer a student interested in pursuing science. I had always been interested in neuroscience, and came to Brandeis on a quest to learn more about a subject that has the capacity to answer some of life’s most befuddling mysteries. I am lucky enough to have had the chance to research one of these great mysteries — how is it possible for the brain to take something as intangible as an experience and maintain it as a memory?  I work in the Lisman Lab part-time year-round studying the molecular basis of memory. This summer, with the generous support of the M.R. Bauer Foundation fellowship, it became possible for me to work full-time and continue making progress toward the discovery of how memories are maintained on a molecular level. The ability to focus on research this summer has further cultivated my interest in neuroscience. I look forward to continuing my work in the Lisman Lab.