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Dr; Murray's Group Photo

Elisabeth A. Murray, Ph.D.
Chief, Section on Neurobiology of Learning and Memory

Dr. Murray’s laboratory studies the neural basis of learning, memory, emotion and response selection, with two main areas of focus. The first of these two research programs involves the independent mnemonic contributions of the different medial temporal lobes structures, the extent to which different medial temporal lobe structures must interact in storing information, and their interaction with the prefrontal cortex. Dr. Murray’s laboratory has pioneered the use of MRI–guided stereotaxic surgery, a method that has for the first time allowed examination of the selective mnemonic contributions of various medial temporal lobe structures. Her work has demonstrated that, for some types of memory, the entorhinal and perirhinal cortical regions in the ventral medial temporal lobe play a more important role than does the hippocampus. Not only does this area, termed the rhinal cortex, specialize in storing knowledge about objects, but it may serve as the core system for semantic memory.

A second focus of the Murray laboratory is the neural bases of goal–directed behavior. This work examines the neural circuits critical for affective processing and the way in which affective information, including reward, guides response selection. This work has shown that the amygdala and orbital prefrontal cortex operate as part of a network involved in emotion, reward-based learning, and goal-directed behavior. These circuits contribute importantly to behavioral flexibility in the face of changes in reward contingencies or reward value.

Coronal Composite image
This page was last updated January 2015