The Picower Institute for Learning and Memory  ::  MIT

Sam Cooke, Ph.D.

Post-Doctoral Fellow


tel 617-324-7006



My research interests are learning and memory. These processes are critical for well-being and survival, enabling the detection of novelty, the attainment of reward, the avoidance of punishment, the acquisition of skill and providing our cherished autobiography. Disturbances resulting from ageing or disease drastically impact quality of life, making learning and memory important processes to understand. Three major questions interest me: First, how is the nervous system modified to store memory for a long time? Second, how is stored memory retrieved only in the appropriate setting? Third, how are these processes disrupted in disease? To address these questions I work on the understudied phenomenon of behavioral habituation. This process is highly conserved across species, reflecting its fundamental role in cognition. Habituation to stimuli that do not signal reward or punishment enables attention to be assigned to novel stimuli that bear potential significance. It is essential in the mouse, the laboratory animal that is studied with the widest array of experimental tools, as well as in humans, where deficits characterize developmental psychiatric disorders. We have developed novel assays of habituation in mice that facilitate a wide range of experimental techniques, and have shown that underlying plasticity occurs in primary visual cortex (V1).


1993-1996 – Bachelor of Arts, Philosophy and Psychology. The University of Sheffield, United Kingdom.

1997-1998 – Research Masters, Neurological Science. Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology, University College London (UCL), UK.

1998-2002  PhD, Behavioural Neuroscience. Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology, University College London (UCL), UK.


Kaplan ES*, Cooke SF*, Komorowski RW, Chubykin AA, Thomazeau A, Khibnik LA, Gavornik JP, Bear MF (2016) Contrasting roles for parvalbumin-expressing inhibitory neurons in two forms of adult visual cortical plasticity. eLife. e11450.

Cooke SF and Bear MF (2015) Visual recognition memory: a view from V1. Current Opinion in Neurobiology. 35:57-65.

Cooke SF, Komorowski RW, Kaplan ES, Gavornik JP, Bear MF (2015) Visual recognition memory, manifested as long-term habituation, requires
synaptic plasticity in V1. Nature Neuroscience. 18(2):262-271.

Plattner F, Hernandez A, Kistler TM, Pozo K, Zhong P, Yuen, EY, Tan C, Hawasli AH, Cooke SF, Nishi A, Guo A, Wiederhold T, Yan Z, Bibb JA (2014) Memory Enhancement by Targeting Cdk5 Regulation of NR2B. Neuron. 81(5):1079-1083.

Cooke SF and Bear MF (2013) How the mechanisms of long-term synaptic potentiation and depression serve experience-dependent plasticity in primary visual cortex. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society (London) B Biological Sciences. 369(1633):20130284.

Cooke SF and Bear MF (2012) Stimulus-selective response plasticity in the visual cortex: An assay for the assessment of pathophysiology and treatment of cognitive impairment associated with psychiatric disorders. Biologicial Psychiatry. 71(6):487:95.

Bliss TVP and Cooke SF (2011) What are the clinical applications of long-term potentiation (LTP) and depression (LTD)? Clinics. 66 Suppl. 1:3-17.

Cooke SF and Bear MF (2010) Visual experience induces long-term potentiation in the primary visual cortex. Journal of Neuroscience. 30(48):16304-13.

Morice E, Andreae LC, Cooke SF, Vanes L, Fisher EM, Tybulewicz VL, Bliss TV (2008) Preservation of long-term memory and synaptic plasticity despite short-term impairments in the Tc1 mouse model of Down syndrome. Learning and Memory. 15(7):492-500.

Neves G, Cooke SF, Bliss TV (2008) Synaptic plasticity, memory and the hippocampus: a neural network approach to causality. Nature Reviews Neuroscience. 9(1): 65-75.

Hooper C, Markevich V, Plattner F, Killick R, Schofield E, Engel T, Hernandez F, Anderton B, Rosenblum K, Bliss T, Cooke SF, Avila J, Lucas JJ, Giese KP, Stephenson J, Lovestone S (2007) Glycogen synthase kinase-3 inhibition is integral to long-term potentiation. European Journal of Neuroscience. 25(1): 81-86.

Plath N, Ohana O, Dammermann B, Errington ML, Gross C, Mao X, Engelsberg A, Mahlke C, Welzl H, Kobalz U, Fernandez E, Husi H, Waltereit R, Bick-Sander A, Therstappen E, Cooke SF, Blanquet V, Wurst W, Salmen B, Bösl MR, Lipp HP, Schmitz D, Grant SGN, Bliss TVP, Wolfer DP, Kuhl D (2006) Arc/Arg3.1 is essential for the consolidation of synaptic plasticity and memories. Neuron. 52(3):437-44.

Cooke SF*, Wu J*, Plattner F*, Errington M, Rowan M, Peters M, Hirano A, Bradshaw KD, Anwyl R, Bliss TVP and Giese KP (2006) Autophosphorylation of _lphaCaMKII is not a general effector mechanism for NMDA-dependent long-term potentiation in the adult mouse. Journal of Physiology. 574.3: 805-18. *equal contributors.

Cooke SF and Bliss TVP (2006) Plasticity in the human nervous system. Brain. 129 (7): 1659-73.

O'Doherty A, Ruf S, Mulligan C, Hildreth V, Errington ML, Cooke S, Sesay A, Modino S, Vanes L, Hernandez D, Linehan JM, Sharpe PT, Brandner S, Bliss TV, Henderson DJ, Nizetic D, Tybulewicz VL, Fisher EM (2005) An aneuploid mouse strain carrying human chromosome 21 with Down syndrome phenotypes. Science. 309 (5743): 2033-7.

Fragkouli F, Hearn C, Errington M, Cooke S, Grigoriou M, Bliss T, Stylianopoulou F and Pachnis V (2005) Loss of forebrain cholinergic neurons and impairment in spatial learning and memory in LHX7-deficient mice. European Journal of Neuroscience. 21(11): 2923-38.

Cooke SF and Bliss TVP (2005) Long-term potentiation and cognitive drug discovery. Current opinion in drug discovery. 6(1): 25-34.

Cooke SF, Attwell PJ and Yeo CH (2004) Temporal properties of cerebellar-dependent memory consolidation. Journal of Neuroscience. 24: 2934-41.

Cooke SF and Bliss TVP (2003) The genetic enhancement of memory. Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences. 60: 1-5.

Attwell PJ, Cooke SF and Yeo CH (2002) Cerebellar function in consolidation of a motor memory Neuron. 34: 1011-20.

Guo S, Wilson SW, Cooke S, Chitnis AB, Driever W and Rosenthal A (1999) Mutations in the zebrafish unmask shared regulatory pathways controlling the development of catecholaminergic neurons. Developmental biology. 208: 473-87.


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