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Matthew Shapiro

  • PROFESSOR Neuroscience
  • PROFESSOR Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine
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  • Ph.D., John Hopkins University


    I am interested in memory in the everyday sense the word, how the brain remembers, in particular how processing by neural circuits alters those circuits so that information is encoded, stored, and then later retrieved in appropriate circumstances. We use "high density recording" techniques to sample neuronal activity from parts of the brain that are needed for to perform a particular cognitive function, and attempt to decode the signal to understand how these required neural networks represent information in memory and guide behavior. The lab focuses on the hippocampus, the prefrontal cortex, and their related networks that are crucial for memory and cognition.

    Visit Dr. Matthew Shapiro's Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience of Memory Laboratory for more information.


Our lab studies the neural mechanisms of memory in the everyday sense of the word: the ability to learn new facts and remember recent events.

Although for many years scientists believed that only one form of learning existed in the brain, we now know that multiple memory systems exist. Each of these different systems is specialized for encoding different aspects of experience. In people, structures in the medial temporal lobes, including the hippocampus, are crucial for learning new facts and remembering recent events. Other brain structures are crucial for other forms of learning. For example, the amygdala is crucial for learning emotional associations, and the neostriatum is required for certain forms of skill learning.

My research focuses on how the hippocampus, prefrontal cortex, and other brain areas contribute to memory in experimental animals, mostly rats, and how mechanisms of neuronal plasticity within these structures may underlie memory functions. Experiments in my lab are guided by cognitive, computational, physiological, and pharmacological hypotheses. The basic idea is that the properties of the NMDA receptor allows cells in the hippocampus to conjoin temporally overlapping cortical inputs into representations of events, and that recurrent connections within the hippocampus allow these events to be linked into the sequences that comprise episodic memories. Experiments investigating the links between these different levels of analysis are aimed toward providing an integrated perspective of memory. Doses of NMDA receptor antagonists that block the induction, but not expression, of long-term potentiation (LTP) in the hippocampus also impair learning, but not performance, in several tasks that require the hippocampus. We have found that persistent encoding of environmental information by hippocampal neurons also requires NMDA receptor dependent mechanisms. Thus, learning that requires the hippocampus, stable neural encoding within the hippocampus, and synaptic plasticity within the structure each depends upon NMDA receptor activation. We are now investigating the real-time firing patterns in groups of hippocampal neurons to test new hypotheses concerning how populations of these cells encode learned information.

Visit Dr. Matthew Shapiro's Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience of Memory Laboratory for more information.


Rich EL, Shapiro ML. Prelimbic/Infralimbic inactivation impairs memory for multiple task switches, but not flexible selection of familiar tasks. Journal of Neuroscience 2007; 27(17): 4747-4755.

Shapiro ML, Kennedy P, Ferbinteanu J. Representing episodes in the mammalian brain. Current Opinion in Neurobiology 2006; 16: 701-709.

Shapiro ML, Ferbinteanu J. Relative spike timing in pairs of hippocampal neurons distinguishes the beginning and end of journeys. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 2006; 103(11): 4287-4292.

Moga DE, Shapiro ML, Morrison JH. Bidirectional redistribution of AMPA but not NMDA receptors after perforant path simulation in the adult rat hippocampus in vivo. Hippocampus 2006; 16: 990-1003.

Fletcher B, Calhoun M, Rapp P, Shapiro ML. Fornix lesions decouple the induction of hippocampal arc transcription from behavior, but not plasticity. J. Neuroscience 2006; 26(5): 1507-1515.

Kennedy PJ, Shapiro ML. Retrieving memory via internal context requires the hippocampus. J. Neuroscience 2004; 24(31): 6979-6985.

Ferbinteanu J, Shapiro ML. Prospective and retrospective memory encoding in the hippocampus. Neuron 2003; 40: 1227-1239.

Eichenbaum HE, Duchenko P, Wood E, Shapiro M, Tanila H. The hippocampus, memory, and place cells: spatial memory or a memory space?. Neuron 1999; 23: 209-226.

Kentros C, Hargreaves EL, Hawkins RD, Kandel ER, Shapiro M, Muller RU. Abolition of long-term stability of new hippocampal place cell maps by NMDA receptor blockade. Science 1998; 280: 2121-2126.

Nalbantoglu J, Tirado-Santiago G, Lahsaini A, Poirier J, Goncalves O, Verge G, Momoli F, Welner S, Massicotte G, Julien JP, Shapiro M. Impaired learning and LTP in mice expressing the C-terminus of the Alzheimer precursor protein. Nature 1997; 387(6632): 500-505.

Industry Relationships

Physicians and scientists on the faculty of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai often interact with pharmaceutical, device and biotechnology companies to improve patient care, develop new therapies and achieve scientific breakthroughs. In order to promote an ethical and transparent environment for conducting research, providing clinical care and teaching, Mount Sinai requires that salaried faculty inform the School of their relationships with such companies.

Dr. Shapiro did not report having any of the following types of financial relationships with industry during 2014 and/or 2015: consulting, scientific advisory board, industry-sponsored lectures, service on Board of Directors, participation on industry-sponsored committees, equity ownership valued at greater than 5% of a publicly traded company or any value in a privately held company. Please note that this information may differ from information posted on corporate sites due to timing or classification differences.

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