Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center


Poe, Gina, Ph.D.


The focus of our lab is to Investigate the mechanisms by which sleep traits serve learning and memory consolidation. We are interested in how disrupted sleep seen in IDD patients may impact learning and memory.


  • Professor, Department of Integrative Biology and Physiology


The Poe lab investigates the mechanisms by which sleep traits serve learning and memory consolidation. Memories are encoded by the pattern of synaptic connections between neurons. We employ tetrode recording and optogenetic techniques in learning animals to see how neural patterns underlying learning are reactivated during sleep, and how activity during sleep influences the neural memory code. Both strengthening and weakening of synapses is important to the process of sculpting a network when we make new memories and integrate them into old schema.

Results from our studies suggest that while synaptic strengthening can be efficiently accomplished during the waking learning process, the synaptic weakening part of memory integration requires conditions unique to sleep. The absence of noradrenaline during sleep spindles and REM sleep as well as the low levels of serotonin during REM sleep allow the brain to integrate new memories and to refresh and renew old synapses so that we are ready to build new associations the next waking period.

Memory difficulties involved in post-traumatic stress disorder, Schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease and even autism involve abnormalities in the sleep-dependent memory consolidation process that my lab studies. Keywords: Sleep, learning and memory, PTSD, memory consolidation, reconsolidation, REM sleep, sleep spindles, Norepinephrine, LTP, depotentiation, reversal learning, optogenetics, electrophysiology, tetrode recordings, hippocampus, prefrontal cortex.


  1. Cabrera, Y, Koymans, KJ, Poe, GR, Kessels, HW, Van Someren, EJW, Wassing, R et al.. Overnight neuronal plasticity and adaptation to emotional distress. Nat Rev Neurosci. 2024;25 (4):253-271. doi: 10.1038/s41583-024-00799-w. PubMed PMID:38443627 .
  2. Poe, GR, Donlea, JM. Sleep sculpts circuits in every species studied. Cell. 2023;186 (13):2730-2732. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2023.05.042. PubMed PMID:37352834 .
  3. Jang, RS, Ciliberti, D, Mankin, EA, Poe, GR. Recurrent Hippocampo-neocortical sleep-state divergence in humans. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2022;119 (44):e2123427119. doi: 10.1073/pnas.2123427119. PubMed PMID:36279474 PubMed Central PMC9636919.
  4. Poe, GR, Foote, S, Eschenko, O, Johansen, JP, Bouret, S, Aston-Jones, G et al.. Locus coeruleus: a new look at the blue spot. Nat Rev Neurosci. 2020;21 (11):644-659. doi: 10.1038/s41583-020-0360-9. PubMed PMID:32943779 PubMed Central PMC8991985.
  5. Poe, GR, Cai, DJ. The lab on lockdown: thinking back and looking ahead. Nat Rev Neurosci. 2020;21 (9):447-448. doi: 10.1038/s41583-020-0353-8. PubMed PMID:32699293 PubMed Central PMC7374658.
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