Throughout each day the brain captures snapshots of distinct experiences, forming episodic memories that often last a lifetime. This function depends on the hippocampus – a brain region that is evolutionarily conserved across vertebrates. My lab studies the relationship between hippocampal activity and episodic memory using a unique model organism – the black-capped chickadee. Chickadees are specialist food-caching birds that store thousands of food items at concealed locations in their environment and use memory later in time to retrieve their caches. I will describe our effort in designing behavioural arenas and neural recording techniques to study these behaviors in laboratory conditions. I will share our discoveries of spatial representations in the chickadee hippocampus, as well as our latest data on how neural activity in this region represents the content of distinct memories.


Dmitriy Aronov is an Assistant Professor of Neuroscience at Columbia University's Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute in New York City. He received an undergraduate degree in applied mathematics at Columbia, followed by a doctorate in neuroscience at MIT studying the birdsong system with Michale Fee. He then completed a postdoctoral fellowship with David Tank at Princeton University, studying the rodent hippocampus. In his lab, Dr Aronov has combined these past research interests to begin studying the role of the hippocampus in episodic memory using specialist food-caching birds. He is a recipient of several awards, including most recently the NIH Director's New Innovator Award.

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