CNS 2024 | Keynote Address by Sheena Josselyn

Sheena Josselyn will deliver her lecture in Toronto, Canada, April of 2024 at the Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel.

'Making Memories in Mice'

Sheena Josselyn

Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) and University of Toronto
Saturday April 13, 2024, 4:30 - 5:30PM (EDT), Ballroom East

Understanding how the brain uses information is a fundamental goal of neuroscience. Several human disorders (ranging from autism spectrum disorder to PTSD to Alzheimer’s disease) may stem from disrupted information processing. Therefore, this basic knowledge is not only critical for understanding normal brain function, but also vital for the development of new treatment strategies for these disorders. Memory may be defined as the retention over time of internal representations gained through experience, and the capacity to reconstruct these representations at later times. Long-lasting physical brain changes (‘engrams’) are thought to encode these internal representations. The concept of a physical memory trace likely originated in ancient Greece, although it wasn’t until 1904 that Richard Semon first coined the term ‘engram’. Despite its long history, finding a specific engram has been challenging, likely because an engram is encoded at multiple levels (epigenetic, synaptic, cell assembly). My lab is interested in understanding how specific neurons are recruited or allocated to an engram, and how neuronal membership in an engram may change over time or with new experience. Here I will describe data in our efforts to understand memories in mice.


Sheena Josselyn is a Canadian neuroscientist and a full professor of psychology and physiology at Hospital for Sick Children and The University of Toronto.[1][2] Josselyn studies the neural basis of memory, specifically how the brain forms and stores memories in rodent models.[3] She has made critical contributions to the field of Neuronal Memory Allocation and the study of engrams.[4]

After finishing her postdoctoral work, Josselyn moved back to Toronto to start her lab at SickKids Hospital at the University of Toronto.[5] Her overall goal is to understand how humans learn and remember such that one day her work can impact translational research at her institute and in her community.[5] Some of Josselyn's early discoveries include discovering that CREB over-expression in the auditory thalamus increases memory and fear,[14] and further, that ablating neurons that highly expressed CREB after fear learning actually ablates fear memories in rodent.[15] These were some of the first findings isolating specific neurons representing a specific memory in the brain.[3][15] Josselyn's multidisciplinary approach to tackling questions regarding memories led her to several prestigious awards and recognitions including becoming a member of the Royal Society of Canada in 2018 for her research.[16]