How do we remember the name of someone we’ve just met or where we left our iPhone? This form of memory is called associative memory and we use it countless times each day. A question that has been at the heart of the research in the Suzuki lab is how the brain allows us to form and retain new associative memories.


Pattern Separation

It has been proposed that a key function of the dentate gyrus is pattern separation, or the ability to differentiate between to-be-remembers items with overlapping features.  Using an experimental design inspired by the fMRI study of Bakker et al., (2008), we are exploring the neural correlates of visual pattern separation in the hippocampus in primates.


Reward Prediction Error and Value Encoding 

The important role of the striatum in computing reward prediction error and value during reinforcement learning has been well established.  This project explores these signals in the primate hippocampus and compares them directly to signals seen in the caudate nucleus as subjects learn new conditional motor associations.



All stories or episodes have a beginning, a middle and an end. How do the cells of the medial temporal lobe keep track of the timing of individual items in an episode? We recently compared the patterns of medial temporal lobe activity during a temporal order memory test to that seen in the prefrontal cortex reporting stronger timing-related activity in the hippocampus relative to the prefrontal cortex (Naya et al., 2017).