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Heather A. Cameron, Ph.D., Investigator

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. Her laboratory studies the regulation of adult neurogenesis and the role of the newly-born neurons in normal hippocampal function as well as in diseases involving the hippocampus.
Photo of Heather A. Cameron, Ph.D., Investigator


Research Interests:
5 newly-born granule cells labeled with BrdU and TUC-4

New Granule Neurons

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.

Selected Recent Publications:
  • Snyder JS, Clifford MA, Jeurling SI, Cameron HA (2012) Complementary activation of hippocampal–cortical subregions and immature neurons following chronic training in single and multiple context versions of the water maze., Behav Brain Res 227, 330-339. Full Text/Abstract

  • Snyder JS, Ferrante S, Cameron HA (2012) Late maturation of adult-born neurons in the temporal dentate gyrus., PLoS One 7, e48757. Full Text/Abstract

  • Snyder JS, Soumier A, Brewer M, Pickel J, Cameron HA (2011) Adult hippocampal neurogenesis buffers stress responses and depressive behavior., Nature 476, 459-461. Full Text/Abstract

  • Snyder JS, Choe J, Clifford M, Jeurling S, Hurley P, Brown A, Kamhi J, Cameron HA (2009) Adult-born hippocampal neurons are more numerous, faster maturing and more involved in behavior in rats than in mice., J Neurosci 29, 14484-14495. Full Text/Abstract

  • Snyder JS, Radik R, Wojtowicz JM, Cameron HA (2009) Anatomical gradients of adult neurogenesis and activity: young neurons in the ventral dentate gyrus are activated by water maze training, Hippocampus 19, 360-370. Full Text/Abstract

  • Snyder JS, Glover L, Sanzone KM, Kamhi JF, Cameron HA (2009) The effects of exercise and stress on the survival and maturation of adult-generated granule cells, Hippocampus 19, 898-906. Full Text/Abstract

  • Cameron HA, Dayer AG (2008) New interneurons in the adult neocortex: small, sparse, but significant?, Biological Psychiatry 63, 650-655. Full Text/Abstract

All Selected Publications

Contact Information:

Dr. Heather A. Cameron
Unit on Neuroplasticity, NIMH
Porter Neuroscience Research Center
Building 35, Room 3C-915
35 Lincoln Drive, MSC 3718
Bethesda, MD 20892-3718

Telephone: (301) 496-3814 (office), (301) 480-4564 (fax)


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