JIM HEYS portrait
  • Adjunct Assistant Professor, Biomedical Engineering
  • Assistant Professor, Neurobiology Labs
801-587-8090

Research Statement

Episodic memories are memories of our personal experiences. These memories are characterized as an ordered series of events that occur in spatial and temporal context. This amazing ability to remember such complex memories enables animals to produce adaptive behavior learned from just single experiences. Devastating diseases, such as Alzheimer’s Disease and Schizophrenia, disrupt the ability to encode and recall episodic memories, and highlight the important need to understand the neurobiological basis of episodic memory. 

The research in my lab is aimed towards uncovering the synaptic, cellular and circuit level mechanisms that underlie formation and recall of episodic memory. Furthermore, we aim to understand how these mechanisms become disrupted during neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s Disease. Towards this end, we have developed cutting-edge optical techniques for application in awake-behaving rodents that enable recording and manipulation of neural physiology, from the level of individual synaptic spines up to thousands of simultaneously monitored neurons. These recording techniques are used in combination with virtual reality behavioral paradigms in order to carefully monitor and control animal behavior. In order to make progress towards understanding episodic memory, we focus on neural representations of space and time found in the hippocampus and entorhinal cortex, which are thought to be key components of episodic memories. Together, we use these techniques and approaches in order to answer the following questions:

  1. What are the principles of synaptic organization and dendritic integration that underlie neural coding of space and time in the hippocampus and entorhinal cortex? 
  2. What synaptic and circuit properties change during learning that underlie encoding of novel neural representations of space and time? 
  3. How are the synaptic and circuit level mechanisms of episodic memory altered in animal models of Alzheimer’s Disease?

Research Keywords

  • Systems Neuroscience
  • Learning and Memory
  • Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia
  • Neurophysiology
  • Synaptic Plasticity

Presentations

  • Heys JG. Neural representations of time and space underlying episodic memory. Biozentrum, University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland. , , 2018.
  • Heys JG. Neural representations of time and space underlying episodic memory. Department of Neuroscience, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT. , , 2018.
  • Heys JG. Neural representations of time and space underlying episodic memory. Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy, University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City, UT. , , 2018.
  • Heys JG. Neural representations of time and space underlying episodic memory. Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Boston University, Boston, MA. , , 2018.
  • Heys JG. Neural representations of time and space underlying episodic memory. Institute of Neuroscience and the Department of Biology, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR. , , 2018.
  • Heys JG. Neural representations of time and space underlying episodic memory. Department of Neurobiology, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, NC. , , 2018.
  • Heys JG. Distinct neural representations of time and space in medial entorhinal cortex. Simons Collaboration on the Global Brain Annual Meeting, New York, NY. , , 2017.
  • Heys JG. Distinct neural representations of time and space in medial entorhinal cortex. Simons Collaboration on the Global Brain NY Area Post-doc Meeting. New York, NY. , , 2017.
  • Heys JG. Optical Imaging and Manipulation of Medial Entorhinal Cortex Grid Cells. Simons Collaboration on the Global Brain Annual Meeting, New York, NY. , , 2015.
  • Heys JG. Using Virtual Reality to Enable Cellular Resolution 2-Photon [Ca2+] Imaging of Medial Entorhinal Cortex Grid Cells. 6th Bernstein Sparks Workshop: Multi-modal closed-loop stimulation and virtual realities, Munich, Germany. , , 2015.
  • Heys JG. A cross-species comparison of intrinsic cellular mechanisms underlying spatial processing in medial entorhinal cortex. Neuroscience Seminar, University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI. , , 2013.
  • Heys JG. Intrinsic cellular electrophysiology and mechanisms underlying spatial processing in medial entorhinal cortex. Janelia Research Campus, Ashburn, VA. , , 2012.
  • Heys JG. Intrinsic cellular electrophysiology and mechanisms underlying spatial processing in medial entorhinal cortex. Department of Neurobiology, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL. , , 2012.

Languages

  • English, Fluent.

Publications

  • Heys JG, Rangarajan KV, Dombeck DA (date unknown). The functional micro-organization of grid cells revealed by cellular-resolution imaging. Vol. 84, 1079-90. Accepted, .
  • Heys JG, Dombeck DA (date unknown). Evidence for a subcircuit in medial entorhinal cortex representing elapsed time during immobility. Vol. 21, 1574-1582. Accepted, .
  • Heys JG, Giocomo LM, Hasselmo ME (date unknown). Cholinergic modulation of the resonance properties of stellate cells in layer II of medial entorhinal cortex. Vol. 104, 258-70. Accepted, .
  • Heys JG, Hasselmo ME (date unknown). Neuromodulation of I(h) in layer II medial entorhinal cortex stellate cells: a voltage-clamp study. Vol. 32, 9066-72. Accepted, .
  • Heys JG, Shay CF, MacLeod KM, Witter MP, Moss CF, Hasselmo ME (date unknown). Physiological Properties of Neurons in Bat Entorhinal Cortex Exhibit an Inverse Gradient along the Dorsal-Ventral Axis Compared to Entorhinal Neurons in Rat. Vol. 36, 4591-9. Accepted, .
  • Heys JG, MacLeod KM, Moss CF, Hasselmo ME (date unknown). Bat and rat neurons differ in theta-frequency resonance despite similar coding of space. Vol. 340, 363-7. Accepted, .
  • Hasselmo ME, Brandon MP, Yoshida M, Giocomo LM, Heys JG, Fransen E, Newman EL, Zilli EA (date unknown). A phase code for memory could arise from circuit mechanisms in entorhinal cortex. (pp. 1129-38). Vol. 22. Accepted, .
  • Barry C, Heys JG, Hasselmo ME (date unknown). Possible role of acetylcholine in regulating spatial novelty effects on theta rhythm and grid cells. (pp. 5). Vol. 6. Accepted, .
  • Heys JG, Schultheiss NW, Shay CF, Tsuno Y, Hasselmo ME (date unknown). Effects of acetylcholine on neuronal properties in entorhinal cortex. (pp. 32). Vol. 6. Accepted, .