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Re-engineering memory circuits to restore cognition in brain disorders


Adaptively responding to the environment is critical to optimal navigation of our world. The hippocampus plays a critical role in this process by generating memories of our experiences, transferring these memories for storage or consolidation to the prefrontal cortex and recalling and routing memories to subcortical circuits to calibrate defensive and motivated behaviors (e.g., approach, cadence, avoidance, reward seeking). It is intuitive to think how aberrations in hippocampal circuit mechanisms underlying memory processing or storage or linkage of mnemonic information with subcortical circuits are the basis for cognitive impairments in neurodevelopmental disorders, aging and Alzheimer’s Disease. The mission of the Sahay lab is to generate insights to reverse these aberrations through investigation of molecular, circuit and network plasticity mechanisms supporting hippocampal dependent memory processing in cognition.


Our projects are governed by the intuitive logic that elemental features of wiring diagrams are prescribed by proteins, whose functions have been fine-tuned by evolution and experience. By identifying molecular determinants of elemental features of circuit wiring diagrams, we strive to ascribe causal relationships between circuit motifs and function. Towards this goal, we have undertaken a multifaceted bottom-up approach that integrates inducible mouse- and viral-genetics, pharmaco- and optogenetics, synaptic tracing, in vivo awake behaving optical imaging, ex vivo electrophysiology, in vivo electrophysiological recordings and behavioral analysis. In published and ongoing studies, we have identified mechanisms to rejuvenate hippocampal circuitry with new adult-born neurons, re-engineer connectivity of hippocampal inhibitory microcircuits and restore inhibitory circuit plasticity to reverse cognitive impairments in aging, AD and in models of neurodevelopmental disorder risk genes.


Happy to share news of my Professorship; on the shoulders of discoveries, mentors and mentees. Thank you all!


Congrats Yu-Tzu and Jason on acceptance of your paper in Neuron.

Thank you NIH/NIMH for your continued support (R01) for our work on inhibitory circuits and social cognition


Thank you NIH/NIA for your continued support (R01) for our work on memory and aging

Congrats Hannah on the acceptance of your paper & DFG Transition Grant.  Bravo and Well deserved!

Excited to share our study on Expanding the Memory reservoir in the adult brain


Thank you The Simons Collaboration on Plasticity and the Aging Brain on funding exciting new directions in the lab


Congrats Travis on NARSAD YI 2020!


Congrats Travis on our Perspective on Engrams and Memory Indexing (Neuron August 6 2020


Watch Amar share recent work from lab on how the hippocampus communicates with subcortical circuits via lateral septum to calibrate defensive behaviors (webinar link).



Excited to share our study in Cell Reports "Distinct Dorsal and Ventral Hippocampal CA3 Outputs Govern Contextual Fear Discrimination"


Excited to share our Review on "Communication, Cross Talk, and Signal Integration in the Adult Hippocampal Neurogenic Niche" in Neuron


Excited to share our Review on the"Functions of Adult-born neurons in Hippocampal Memory Interference and Indexing" in Nature Neuroscience


Amar is named James and Audrey Foster   MGH Research Scholar thanks to the generous philanthropy of James and Audrey Foster.  Thank you very much for supporting our science!



Booyah!  Congrats Antoine on your study  identifying how a class of SST cells in the dorsolateral septum act as threat sensors and gate motion to calibrate behavioral responses to threats in the environment. Nature Neuroscience 2019.  MGH EurekaAlertPress Release. HSCI Press Release


Exciting to see the NIH Director discuss and share our recent paper (Nature Medicine 2018) on how FFI maintains hippocampal indexes and remote memory precision in his monthly blog post on recent advances in science and medicine.


Congrats Antoine on leading the study identifying a stress sensitive TF that protects against stress-induced impairments in dendritic spines & fear responses (Cell Reports, May 2018)


Congrats Nannan on identifying neural mechanisms underlying remote memory generalization in adulthood and aging

(March  12, 2018 Nature Medicine). Press release


Congrats Tara and Kate on edifying the role of Hippocampal Oxytocin receptors in social memory (Raam et al, Nature Communications). Check out Press release.

Lab is awarded Ro1 from NIMH to support investigations into social memory circuits. 


Congrats Cinzia on 2017 NARSAD YI Award!


Our paper on Neurogenesis, neuronal competition, memory, remapping and aging is in Press at Neuron.   Check out blurb. Congrats Kate!


Lab receives NIA R01 giving our research program traction with NIMH and NIA.

Amar talks about  strategies for setting up lab and funding with Cell Stem Cell. 


Congrats Antoine on Tosteson Fellowship!


Sahay lab receives Inscopix Decode Award to combine optical imaging and behavior





Get in touch

Our laboratory is embedded in the Center for Regenerative Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and is part of a matrix that includes the Harvard Stem Cell Institute  and the Department of Psychiatry at MGH. 


We are members of the PhD program in the Program in Neuroscience at Harvard Medical School.  


We are committed to mentoring and training the next generation of scientists to understand the workings of the brain and tackle brain disorders.  The laboratory hosts individuals at all stages of their careers and I aspire to continuously evolve as a mentor. 


If you are interested in joining this team or supporting our science, email Amar (

Twitter @AmarSahay_

Click to download CV

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