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Melanie Sekeres, Ph.D. - Baylor University . Waco, TX, US

Melanie Sekeres, Ph.D. Melanie Sekeres, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience | Baylor University

Waco, TX, UNITED STATES

Expert in memory consolidation processes

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Biography

Dr. Sekeres earned her Ph.D. from the Department of Physiology at the University of Toronto in 2012. She conducted her graduate research at the Hospital for Sick Children’s Program in Neurosciences & Mental Health, where she investigated the molecular mechanisms underlying memory consolidation processes in the mouse brain. Dr. Sekeres then completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the Rotman Research Institute, Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care. There she turned her focus towards using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in healthy young adults to investigate how the passage of time affects the quality and neural representation of episodic memory in humans. Dr. Sekeres joined the Baylor faculty in 2016.

Industry Expertise (6)

Health Care - Services Health Care - Facilities Education/Learning Research Health and Wellness Health Care - Providers

Areas of Expertise (3)

Episodic Memory in Humans Age and Memory Memory Consolidation Processes

Education (2)

University of Toronto: Ph.D., Physiology

Trent University: B.Sc., Psychology

Articles (5)

Recovering and preventing loss of detailed memory: Differential rates of forgetting for detail types in episodic memory Learning & Memory

Sekeres, M., Bonasia, K., St-Laurent, M., Pishdadian, S., Winocur, G., Grady, C., Moscovitch, M.

2016

Episodic memories undergo qualitative changes with time, but little is known about how different aspects of memory are affected. Different types of information in a memory, such as perceptual detail, and central themes, may be lost at different rates. In patients with medial temporal lobe damage, memory for perceptual details is severely impaired, while memory for central details is relatively spared. Given the sensitivity of memory to loss of details, the present study sought to investigate factors that mediate the forgetting of different types of information from naturalistic episodic memories in young healthy adults. The study investigated (1) time-dependent loss of "central" and "peripheral" details from episodic memories, (2) the effectiveness of cuing with reminders to reinstate memory details, and (3) the role of retrieval in preventing forgetting. Over the course of 7 d, memory for naturalistic events (film clips) underwent a time-dependent loss of peripheral details, while memory for central details (the core or gist of events) showed significantly less loss. Giving brief reminders of the clips just before retrieval reinstated memory for peripheral details, suggesting that loss of details is not always permanent, and may reflect both a storage and retrieval deficit. Furthermore, retrieving a memory shortly after it was encoded prevented loss of both central and peripheral details, thereby promoting retention over time. We consider the implications of these results for behavioral and neurobiological models of retention and forgetting.

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Higher order conditioning is impaired by hippocampal lesions Current Biology

Gilboa, A., Sekeres, M., Moscovitch, M., Winocur, G.

2014

Behavior in the real world is rarely motivated by primary conditioned stimuli that have been directly associated with potent unconditioned reinforcers. Instead, motivation and choice behavior are driven by complex chains of higher-order associations that are only indirectly linked to intrinsic reward and often exert their influence outside awareness. Second-order conditioning (SOC) [1] is a basic associative-learning mechanism whereby stimuli acquire motivational salience by proxy, in the absence of primary incentives [2, 3]. Memory-systems theories consider first-order conditioning (FOC) and SOC to be prime examples of hippocampal-independent nondeclarative memory [4, 5]. Accordingly, neurobiological models of SOC focus almost exclusively on nondeclarative neural systems that support motivational salience and reward value. Transfer of value from a conditioned stimulus to a neutral stimulus is thought to require the basolateral amygdala [6, 7] and the ventral striatum [2, 3], but not the hippocampus. We developed a new paradigm to measure appetitive SOC of tones in rats. Hippocampal lesions severely impaired both acquisition and expression of SOC despite normal FOC. Unlike controls, rats with hippocampal lesions could not discriminate between positive and negative secondary conditioned tones, although they exhibited general familiarity with previously presented tones compared with new tones. Importantly, normal rats' behavior, in contrast to that of hippocampal groups, also revealed different confidence levels as indexed by effort, a central characteristic of hippocampal relational memory. The results indicate, contrary to current systems models, that representations of intrinsic relationships between reward value, stimulus identity, and motivation require hippocampal mediation when these relationships are of a higher order.

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Factors affecting graded and ungraded memory loss following hippocampal lesions Neurobiology of Learning and Memory

Winocur, G., Moscovitch, M., Sekeres, M.

2013

This review evaluates three current theories – Standard Consolidation (Squire & Wixted, 2011), Overshadowing (Sutherland, Sparks, & Lehmann, 2010), and Multiple Trace-Transformation (Winocur, Moscovitch, & Bontempi, 2010) – in terms of their ability to account for the role of the hippocampus in recent and remote memory in animals. Evidence, based on consistent findings from tests of spatial memory and memory for acquired food preferences, favours the transformation account, but this conclusion is undermined by inconsistent results from studies that measured contextual fear memory, probably the most commonly used test of hippocampal involvement in anterograde and retrograde memory. Resolution of this issue may depend on exercising greater control over critical factors (e.g., contextual environment, amount of pre-exposure to the conditioning chamber, the number and distribution of foot-shocks) that can affect the representation of the memory shortly after learning and over the long-term. Research strategies aimed at characterizing the neural basis of long-term consolidation/transformation, as well as other outstanding issues are discussed.

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Hippocampal lesions produce both non-graded and temporally-graded retrograde amnesia in the same rats Hippocampus

Winocur, G., Sekeres, M., Binns, M. Moscovitch, M.

2013

Rats were administered contextual fear conditioning and trained on a water-maze, spatial memory task 28 days or 24 h before undergoing hippocampal lesion or control surgery. When tested postoperatively on both tasks, rats with hippocampal lesions exhibited retrograde amnesia for spatial memory at both delays but temporally graded retrograde amnesia for the contextual fear response. In demonstrating both types of retrograde amnesia in the same animals, the results parallel similar observations in human amnesics with hippocampal damage and provide compelling evidence that the nature of the task and the type of information being accessed are crucial factors in determining the pattern of retrograde memory loss associated with hippocampal damage. The results are interpreted as consistent with our transformation hypothesis (Winocur et al. (2010a) Neuropsychologia 48:2339-2356; Winocur and Moscovitch (2011) J Int Neuropsychol Soc 17:766-780) and at variance with standard consolidation theory and other theoretical models of memory.

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Increasing CRTC1 function in the dentate gyrus during memory formation or reactivation increases memory strength without compromising memory quality Journal of Neuroscience

Sekeres, M., Sargin, D., Mercaldo, V., Frankland, P.W., Josselyn, S.A.

2012

Memory stabilization following encoding (synaptic consolidation) or memory reactivation (reconsolidation) requires gene expression and protein synthesis (Dudai and Eisenberg, 2004; Tronson and Taylor, 2007; Nader and Einarsson, 2010; Alberini, 2011). Although consolidation and reconsolidation may be mediated by distinct molecular mechanisms (Lee et al., 2004), disrupting the function of the transcription factor CREB impairs both processes (Kida et al., 2002; Mamiya et al., 2009). Phosphorylation of CREB at Ser133 recruits CREB binding protein (CBP)/p300 coactivators to activate transcription (Chrivia et al., 1993; Parker et al., 1996). In addition to this well known mechanism, CREB regulated transcription coactivators (CRTCs), previously called transducers of regulated CREB (TORC) activity, stimulate CREB-mediated transcription, even in the absence of CREB phosphorylation. Recently, CRTC1 has been shown to undergo activity-dependent trafficking from synapses and dendrites to the nucleus in excitatory hippocampal neurons (Ch'ng et al., 2012). Despite being a powerful and specific coactivator of CREB, the role of CRTC in memory is virtually unexplored. To examine the effects of increasing CRTC levels, we used viral vectors to locally and acutely increase CRTC1 in the dorsal hippocampus dentate gyrus region of mice before training or memory reactivation in context fear conditioning. Overexpressing CRTC1 enhanced both memory consolidation and reconsolidation; CRTC1-mediated memory facilitation was context specific (did not generalize to nontrained context) and long lasting (observed after virally expressed CRTC1 dissipated). CREB overexpression produced strikingly similar effects. Therefore, increasing CRTC1 or CREB function is sufficient to enhance the strength of new, as well as established reactivated, memories without compromising memory quality.

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