Photo of Sebnem Nur Tuncdemir, Ph.D.

Sebnem Nur Tuncdemir, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Neuroscience
Academic Office Location:
UConn Health
263 Farmington Avenue
Farmington, CT 06030-3401
Phone: 860-679-4512

Memory and Cognition Lab

Neuroscience Department

B.S.Pennsylvania State UniversityBiology
M.S.Pennsylvania State UniversityBiology
Ph.D.NYU School of MedicineNeuroscience and Physiology
PostdocColumbia University, New York Psychiatric InstituteNeuroscience

Name of Award/HonorAwarding Organization
BRAIN Initiative Postdoctoral Career Transition Award to Promote Diversity (K99/R00)National Institutes of Health
Trainee Professional Development Award (TPDA)Society for Neuroscience
The Nemko Prize in Cellular or Molecular NeuroscienceSociety for Neuroscience
Schreyer Honors College Integrated Undergraduate/Graduate Program Pennsylvania State University

My lab is interested in understanding how the neural circuits that encode specific features of contexts are organized in adults and the key developmental mechanisms by which this network is formed. We study the hippocampal circuitry underlying flexible memory encoding using imaging and neural manipulation methods in awake behaving mice. We also aim to understand the neural mechanisms of the impairments in cognitive flexibility, a common endophenotype of many psychiatric disorders. Ultimately, an integrated view of a circuit function from the activity of its component cell types at multiple time scales, across the lifespan will provide new biomarkers for disorders characterized by impaired cognitive discrimination such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and anxiety disorders.

Currently the work in the lab focuses on two main questions:

1- How does neural diversity in the hippocampus contribute to memory?

The hippocampal dentate gyrus is densely packed with sparsely active excitatory granule cells and previous work used to think about this circuit having only a single type of sparsely active place cells which encode the animal’s position within an environmental context by integrating across all the sensory information relevant to estimating its location. But by chronically imaging a large population of granule cells using two-photon calcium imaging we have found an additional population encoding sensory cues. We will now figure out how different these cells are and why they are different, by measuring and manipulating the activity of afferent to the dentate gyrus. Using a combination of in vivo imaging, transgenic tagging and manipulation strategies as well as computational analysis of somatic and projection neural activity we will investigate the mechanisms by which multisensory information arriving from the external world generates the functional diversity in the dentate representations.

2- What is the developmental basis to the brain’s response to stress and antidepressants?

Numerous studies have shown that the developmental time course of the formation of the hippocampal principal neurons matches their anatomical location and determines their wiring into the hippocampal circuits. Yet, how this developmental sequence affects the function of the neurons during cognitive behaviors remains unclear. In previous work, we have shown that adult born immature granule cells bidirectionally modulate diverse responses in the dentate gyrus; they increase remapping of place cells while decreasing remapping of cue cells. We will now ask whether such age-dependent specialization of function also applies to developmental neurogenesis or if the functional diversity emerges through experience after integration into the dentate network. We will also address clinically relevant questions of how do developmentally differentiated functional groups of dentate gyrus neurons respond to stress and antidepressant treatment and how their activity can be harnessed to develop novel circuit-based treatments of stress-induced psychopathologies, such as PTSD and depression.

Positions for a postdoctoral fellow and PhD (MD or MD/PhD) candidates are available in the Tuncdemir lab on a National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded study examining the circuit mechanisms by which multisensory information arriving from the external world generates the functional diversity in the neural representations and their behavioral consequences. 

Accepting Lab Rotation Students: Fall 2023, Spring, Summer and Fall 2024


Journal Articles


Title or AbstractTypeSponsor/EventDate/YearLocation
University of Connecticut Department of Physiology & Neurobiology Seminar SeriesLecture2024
Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Department of NeuroscienceLecture2023New York
The Winter Conference on the Neurobiology of Learning and MemoryTalk2023Park City, Utah
International Conference on Learning and MemoryTalk2023California
BRAIN Initiative Annual Investigators virtual meetingPoster2022
Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School Department of Neuroscience and Cell BiologyTalk2022
Columbia University Zuckerman Institute Postdoctoral Seminar SeriesTalk2022
University of Connecticut Health Center, Department of NeuroscienceTalk2022
Society for Neuroscience Virtual MeetingPoster2021
The New York Stem Cell Foundation Annual Conference Poster2021
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Meeting, Neural Circuits, Virtual SymposiumPoster2020
Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting, Chicago, ILPoster2019
Cold Spring Harbor Symposium, Brain & Behavior: Order & Disorder in the Nervous System, CSH, NYPoster2018
Gordon Research Conference on Neural Development, Newport, RIPoster2014
EMBO Conference on the Assembly and Function of Neural Circuits, Ascona, Switzerland Poster2013
EMBO Workshop on Cortical Interneurons in Health and Disease, Mallorca, SpainPoster2012
NYU Neuroscience Institute and Center for Neuroscience Uptown/Downtown MeetingTalk2011
The Gotham Society for Mouse DevelopmentTalk2011