Body and Soul


Alzheimer's is a disease that attacks the brain; Rutgers is attacking back with its brainpower. At the Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience at Rutgers–Newark, Laszlo Zaborszky studies the basal forebrain's cholinergic cells, which are destroyed by the disease. Also in Newark, through the Memory Disorders Project, an interdisciplinary team of researchers studies memory formation and loss, and works to combat Alzheimer's disease in African-American communities and the Middle East. In New Brunswick, professor and Department of Cell Biology and Neuroscience chair Karl Herrup focuses on what makes nerve cells die in diseases like Alzheimer's; Mary Konsolaki, associate research professor of genetics, works to understand the mechanisms involved in Alzheimer's onset and progression.

Memory Disorders Project
Laszlo Zaborszky
Karl Herrup
Mary Konsolaki

Search for the Cure

As founding director of the W.M. Keck Center for Collaborative Neuroscience at Rutgers, Wise Young has assembled a team of researchers that collaborates with more than 100 laboratories around the world in the search for spinal cord and brain injury treatments. Young, who holds the Richard H. Shindell Chair in Neuroscience, is among the world's outstanding neuroscientists and is a leading advocate for stem cell research; his own experiments on rats with spinal cord injuries—some involving stem cells—are advancing researchers' understanding of cellular therapeutics. Before coming to Rutgers in 1997, Young was on the research team whose breakthrough work upended conventional wisdom that spinal cord injuries resulted in permanent damage.

W.M. Keck Center for Collaborative Neuroscience
Wise Young

Massaging Mental Muscles

After decades of studying human cognition, Paula Tallal, a Rutgers Board of Governors Professor of Neuroscience and codirector of the Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience on the Newark Campus, helped devise a revolutionary technique—and a highly successful software program—that promotes children's literacy by strengthening the neural processes responsible for language comprehension through mental exercises that take advantage of the inherent malleability of the brain.

Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience
Paula Tallal

Mind Games

"If you see something, say something" goes the familiar post-9/11 mantra. But who's to say what that "something" is? Maggie Shiffrar, professor of psychology at Rutgers–Newark, studies the human visual system to better understand how autistic people perceive gestures and movements. In a separate project for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, she and coinvestigator Kent Harber, associate professor of psychology at Rutgers–Newark, are using that knowledge to learn how people detect a possible threat based on the movements of others. Another Newark psychology researcher, assistant professor Mauricio Delgado, explores how knowledge of rewards and punishments is represented in the human brain, and how that knowledge drives behavior.

Project with U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Maggie Shiffrar
Mauricio Delgado

Fantastic Voyage

It's medicine's final frontier: the human brain. With 100 billion nerve cells, it is just beginning to reveal its secrets, thanks in part to the 13 dedicated research teams working at the forefront of neuroscience at the Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience at Rutgers–Newark. Scientists study neuroscience from the molecular to the behavioral, advancing knowledge of how the brain works, how it breaks down, and how it might be repaired.

Professor Denis Paré looks at both human behavior and small slices of the amygdala to determine how phobias emerge; his work could well lead to medications that treat posttraumatic stress disorder. Professor Joan Morrell studies the behavior of maternal rats alongside scans of their brains to learn why mothers, human and rodent, might neglect their children and turn to drug abuse. Professor April Benasich "eavesdrops" on infant brains to discover the potential causes of dyslexia and language delays. And assistant professor Bart Krekelberg eyes the intricacies of vision by working to identify areas of the brain responsible for eye movement and visual perception—research that might lead to treatments for both dyslexia and schizophrenia.

Professor Mark Gluck researches memory and learning; his work with Parkinson's sufferers could contribute to more effective medications that treat the disease's physical symptoms without affecting memory or cognition. And professor Gyorgy Buzsaki, one of the world's leading neuroscientists, is revealing the way rhythms, both in the brain and in the smallest brain cell, help neurons communicate with one another and contribute to the creation of memory. Like his colleagues, he's a pioneer in territory that the center is determined to chart.

Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience
Denis Paré
Joan Morrell
April Benasich
Bart Krekelberg
Mark Gluck
Gyorgy Buzsaki