Howard Hughes Medical Institute :: MIT :: The Picower Institute for Learning and Memory

Rob Komorowski, Ph.D.

Post-doctoral Fellow


tel 617-324-7009 


Research Interests

Memories help define who we are and critically influence how we interpret our environment as well as guide our future decision making. I have always been interested in how networks of neurons in the brain function to sub-serve the formation of long-term memories. In my graduate work, I explored how neurons in the hippocampus, a brain region critically involved in the formation of long term memories across species, were modified as rats acquired associations between objects and their spatial context. This work revealed that single unit and oscillatory activity within the hippocampus reflect the formation of associations between stimuli that are critical for the animalís successful performance on a hippocampally dependent task.
However, it is clear that over time memory storage becomes largely independent of the hippocampus through a process of systems level consolidation. Long-term information storage occurs within the various sensory and motor corticies that initially were used to encode salient information. Therefore, we need to understand how new information can be stored long term within cortical networks.

My research in the Bear lab is aimed at gaining insight into how long-term modifications of cortical systems are driven by experience. To address this I combine a number of paradigms currently in use within the lab that drive experience-dependent plasticity within visual cortex with high density extracellular recordings, as well as optical imaging of calcium activity from awake, behaving mice.

In addition, I am quite interested in understanding how cortical and hippocampal network processes are disrupted in genetically modified mouse models of cognitive disorders, particularly in mouse model for human monogenic causes of autism such as Fragile-X Syndrome and in the chr16p11.2 microdeletion. A more complete understanding of the properly functioning brain will lead to a better characterization of the abnormalities produced by these diseases as well as possible biological signatures of such diseases that can assist in their diagnosis and in evaluating treatment efficacy.


Peer Reviewed Articles:

Komorowski, R.W., Garcia, C.G., Hattori, S, Howard, M.W., Eichenbaum, H.B. Ventral hippocampal neurons are shaped by experience to represent behaviorally relevant contexts. . J Neurosci 33(18):8079-87.

Tort A.B., Komorowski, R., Eichenbaum, H, and Kopell, N. (2011). A mechanism for the formation of hippocampal neuronal firing patterns that represent what happens where. Learn. Mem. 18(11):718-727.

Tort A.B., Komorowski, R., Eichenbaum, H, and Kopell, N. (2010). Measuring phase-amplitude coupling between neuronal oscillations of different frequencies. J Neurophysiol. 104(2):1195-1210.

*Tort, A.B.L., *Komorowski, R.W., Manns, J.R., Kopell, N.J., Eichenbaum, H. Theta-gamma coupling increases during the learning of item-context associations. PNAS 106(49):20942-20947. (* - contributed equally)

Komorowski, R.W., Manns, J.R., Eichenbaum, H. (2009) Robust conjunctive item-place coding by hippocampal neurons parallels learning what happens where. J Neurosci 29(31):9918-29.

Lauay, C., Komorowski, R.W., Beaudin, A.E., and Devoogd, T.J. (2005) Adult    female and male zebra finches show distinct patterns of spine deficits in an auditory area and in the song system when reared without exposure to normal adult song. J Comp Neurol. 487(2):119-26.


Eichenbaum, H., Sauvage, M., Fortin, N., Komorowski, R., and Lipton, P. (2012). Towards a functional organization of episodic memory in the medial temporal lobe. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 36(7):1597-1608.

Eichenbaum, H., Fortin, N., Sauvage, M., Robitsek, R.J., Komorowski, R.W. A comparative analysis of episodic memory: Cognitive mechanisms and neural substrates. Comparative Cognition:  Experimental Explorations of Animal Intelligence. (Eds. EA Wasserman and TR Zentall) Oxford University Press.

Education and Research Experience


Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts - (2004-2011)
Ph.D. in Neuroscience (May 2011)
Advisor: Dr. Howard Eichenbaum

Cornell University, College of Arts and Sciences, Ithaca, NY - (1999-2003)
B.A. in Psychology (Biopsychology Concentration), Magna Cum Laude
Advisor: Dr. Timothy DeVoogd

Research Experience:

Post-Doctoral Fellow (2011-Present), Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, MIT
Advisor:  Dr. Mark Bear

Ph.D Research (2004-2011), Center for Memory and Brain, Boston University
Advisor: Dr. Howard Eichenbaum

Research Assistant (2003-2004), Center for Memory and Brain, Boston University
Advisors: Dr. Howard Eichenbaum and Dr. Norbert Fortin

Undergraduate Research Assistant (2001-2003), Bird Song Behavior Laboratory, Cornell University
Advisors: Dr. Timothy DeVoogd and Dr. Christine Lauay