Heather Cameron, Ph.D.

Senior Investigator

Section on Neuroplasticity

NIMH

John Edward Porter Neuroscience Research Center (Building 35), Room 3C915
35 Convent Drive
Bethesda, MD 20814

301-496-3814

heathercameron@mail.nih.gov

Research Topics

The dentate gyrus is one of only two brain regions that continue to produce large numbers of new neurons during adulthood. The goal of our research is to understand the function of adult neurogenesis by studying the regulation of granule cell development, the activation of the new neurons, and the behavioral consequences of inhibiting neurogenesis.

One focus of our work is understanding the activation of granule cells at different ages. New granule cells mature over several weeks, but it is unclear whether they become functional while they are immature, and both highly excitable and highly plastic, or whether they contribute to hippocampal function only after they mature and have properties more like the rest of the granule cell population. This issue is important, because it is related to the larger question of whether granule cells continue to be generated in order to increase the size of the granule cell population or whether the young neurons have a different function than the mature granule cells. If young granule cells do have a unique function, what is the time window during which they perform this function?

Another aspect of our work involves exploring the effects of inhibiting adult neurogenesis on behavior. We have found that mice lacking adult neurogenesis show heightened responses to psychosocial stress; it takes longer for corticosteroid levels to return to baseline levels after stress in these mice. In addition, they show increased depressive-like behavior in stressful tests or after being stressed. We are interested in learning more about how the new neurons normally buffer against depressive-like behavior. In addition, we are investigating how the stress buffering property of new neurons relates to a function for adult neurogenesis in learning and memory.

Biography

Dr. Cameron received her B.S. from Yale University and her Ph.D. from the Rockefeller University, where she worked with Bruce McEwen and Elizabeth Gould examining neurogenesis in the adult rat dentate gyrus. During a postdoctoral fellowship with Ron McKay at NINDS, she determined the magnitude of adult neurogenesis in the dentate gyrus and investigated the effects of stress hormones on neurogenesis in the aging rat hippocampus. Dr. Cameron joined the Mood and Anxiety Disorders Program at NIMH as an Investigator in 2001.

Selected Publications

  1. Karlsson RM, Wang AS, Sonti AN, Cameron HA. Adult neurogenesis affects motivation to obtain weak, but not strong, reward in operant tasks. Hippocampus. 2018;28(7):512-522.

  2. Schoenfeld TJ, McCausland HC, Morris HD, Padmanaban V, Cameron HA. Stress and Loss of Adult Neurogenesis Differentially Reduce Hippocampal Volume. Biol Psychiatry. 2017;82(12):914-923.

  3. Glover LR, Schoenfeld TJ, Karlsson RM, Bannerman DM, Cameron HA. Ongoing neurogenesis in the adult dentate gyrus mediates behavioral responses to ambiguous threat cues. PLoS Biol. 2017;15(4):e2001154.

  4. Snyder JS, Grigereit L, Russo A, Seib DR, Brewer M, Pickel J, Cameron HA. A Transgenic Rat for Specifically Inhibiting Adult Neurogenesis. eNeuro. 2016;3(3).

  5. Cameron HA, Glover LR. Adult neurogenesis: beyond learning and memory. Annu Rev Psychol. 2015;66:53-81.


This page was last updated on August 10th, 2018