Lizzie Tilden

MSTP in PhD Training

Program: Neurosciences

Current advisor: Yao Chen, PhD

Undergraduate university: Brandeis University, 2018

Enrollment year: 2019

Research summary
Exploring how waking-associated PKA activity in the hippocampus mediates learning.

I am currently working in the lab of Yao Chen, where I am studying the PKA dynamics during the natural sleep-wake cycle. Although it has long been recognized that sleep is a highly conserved and necessary behavior for the majority of living organisms, the function of sleep at the cellular, circuit, and systems level is so far unknown. PKA plays an integral role in a variety of signaling pathways in the brain. It acts as an integrator of extracellular signaling and mediates many important cellular properties including intrinsic excitability and synaptic transmission, both of which contribute significantly to the plasticity of the cell. Additionally, manipulation of PKA can rescue learning deficits associated with sleep deprivation. However, the precise dynamics of PKA throughout the sleep-wake cycle are still unknown. In the Chen Lab, we can track the activity of PKA in the hippocampus using Fluorescence Lifetime Photometry (FLiP) in freely behaving animals for extended periods. These experiments revealed a transient PKA activation associated specifically with the mouse transitioning from sleep to wake. I am now working towards understanding the function of PKA in this context through further characterization and manipulation of this activity signature.

Graduate publications