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Professor David Bilkey

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Biological Basis of Memory

Episodic Memories attached to particular moments

Episodic memories are “tagged” to a particular moment in time and space (ie, memory for what, when and where). Our research investigates how the brain encodes an episodic memory. We have focused on the hippocampal region of the brain, which appears to process “where” information and the neighbouring perirhinal cortex, which appears to encode “what”. Given there is connectivity between the hippocampus and this neighbouring cortex, we have hypothesised that an episodic memory is created when hippocampal-based information about place is combined with perirhinal-based information about objects.

We are looking at how the brain combines information from different locations into a coherent memory

Furthermore, we propose that prefrontal cortex has a role in integrating this information with prior experience and motivation. We are currently testing this hypothesis using a variety of behavioral and electrophysiological techniques. These projects will help clarify how the brain melds place and object information which is distributed across different brain areas, into a coherent memory. At a higher level, it will inform us as to why place information seems to be such an important component of an episodic memory.


Hillman, KH and Bilkey, DK. Neural encoding of competitive effort in the anterior cingulate cortex. Nature Neuroscience. 2012 [Epub ahead of print]

Dickerson, DD., Restieaux, AM., and Bilkey, DK. Clozapine administration ameliorates disrupted long-range synchrony in a neurodevelopmental animal model of schizophrenia. Schizophr Res. 2012 Jan 17. [Epub ahead of print]

Wolff, A., Cheyne, K., and Bilkey, D. Behavioural Deficits Associated with Maternal Immune Activation in the Rat Model of Schizophrenia. Behavioural Brain Research (2011) 20:225.

Munn, R and Bilkey, DK. The firing rate of hippocampal CA1 place cells is modulated with a circadian period. Hippocampus 2012, 22:1325-1337.

Clearwater, J and Bilkey, DK. Place, Space and Taste: Combining Context and Spatial Information in a Hippocampal Navigation System. Hippocampus 2011 (epub ahead of press).

Dickerson, DD., Wolff, AR., and Bilkey, DK. Abnormal long-range neural synchrony in a maternal immune activation animal model of schizophrenia. Journal of Neuroscience 2010. 30(37): p12424-31

Hillman, K and Bilkey, DK. Neurons in the rat anterior cingulate cortex dynamically encode cost-benefit in a spatial decision-making task. Journal of Neuroscience 2010. 30(22): p7705-13

Wolff, A and Bilkey, DK. The maternal immune activation (MIA) model of schizophrenia produces pre-pulse inhibition (PPI) deficits in both juvenile and adult rats but these effects are not associated with maternal weight loss. Behavioural Brain Research 2010. 213(2) p:323-7

Lu, X and Bilkey, DK. The Velocity-Related Firing Property of Hippocampal Place Cells is Dependent on Self-Movement. Hippocampus 2010. 20:573-583

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