Sussex Neuroscience

Dr Ildiko Kemenes

IldikoCellular and molecular mechanisms of memory formation

We are studying the cellular and molecular background of memory formation in a molluscan model system. The common pond snail (Lymnaea stagnalis) has been used for decades to explore changes in cellular properties and synaptic connections underlying the expression of different behaviours. The advantage of the Lymnaea system is that lots of individual cells have been identified and their role in the generation of particular behaviours has been characterized. Building on the knowledge of mapped circuits underlying specific behaviours we discovered cellular mechanisms and requirements of transmitters responsible for different phases of memory formation.

Our current research is focused on the early period of memory formation. During this period we observed lapses in memory. Now we aim to discover the importance of these lapses and the physiological changes occurring during these phases of memory formation.

To study this question we use several different techniques. Intra and extracellular measurements are made by using sophisticated electrophysiological recordings. We also use a Multi Electrode Array (MEA) to look at connections among different brain regions and to recognize coordination of firing patterns in groups of cell populations. To look at changes in excitability in different regions of individual cells we use different imaging methods (e.g. Calcium imaging). We also routinely employ molecular and histochemical techniques. Importantly all of these methods are used in relation to behavioural experiments. We follow a “top-down” approach whereby we first establish changes in the behavior and then follow it up by dissection of the underlying cellular molecular events.

PhD students will be trained to use several of these techniques depending on the nature of experiments. Projects can target any specific field within the broad area of memory formation and will suit students with a solid background in neuroscience.

Related papers

(For full list of publications and more details about the lab, please visit:

Marra V, O'Shea M, Benjamin PR, Kemenes I. (2013) Susceptibility of memory consolidation during lapses in recall. Nat Commun. 4:1578.

Kemenes I, O'Shea M, Benjamin PR. (2011) Different circuit and monoamine mechanisms consolidate long-term memory in aversive and reward classical conditioning. Eur J Neurosci. 33(1):143-52.

Harris CA, Passaro PA, Kemenes I, Kemenes G, O'Shea M.Sensory driven multi-neuronal activity and associative learning monitored in an intact CNS on a multielectrode array. J Neurosci Methods. 2010 Feb 15;186(2):171-8.

Benjamin PR, Kemenes G, Kemenes I. (2008) Non-synaptic neuronal mechanisms of learning and memory in gastropod molluscs. Front Biosci. 2008 May 1;13:4051-7.