Clem Lab

Laboratory of Emotional Brain Plasticity


Emotional memories mediate adaptive behavioral reactions to dangerous and rewarding situations. However, memories acquired during intense emotional experiences also contribute to debilitating conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder and addiction. One basis for these powerful effects is the association of stimuli that were encountered during trauma or drug use with the experience of threat or pleasure. Our laboratory aims to understand how such associations are stored in the brain, and identify circuit mechanisms by which they can be alleviated.

We utilize a combination of approaches including optogenetics, synaptic electrophysiology and calcium imaging, to identify how neural pathways and individual neurons are engaged and modified during memory storage. Once memories are established, other experiments address the mechanisms that contribute to their reinforcement or attenuation by molecular and behavioral interventions.

Contact Us

Clem Laboratory
Roger Clem, PhD
Associate Professor, Neuroscience
Associate Professor, Psychiatry
Lab: HESS 9-301
Office: HESS 9-112
Office: 212.824.8976



Lucas EK, Clem RL. GABAergic interneurons: The orchestra or the conductor in fear learning and memory? 2018. Brain Res Bull 141:13-19. doi: 10.1016/j.brainresbull.2017.11.016. Epub 2017 Dec 2.

Lucas EK, Wu WC, Roman-Ortiz C, Clem RL. Prazosin during fear conditioning facilitates subsequent extinction in male C57Bl/6N mice. Psychopharmacology (Berl). Aug 15. doi: 10.1007/s00213-018-5001-x. [Epub ahead of print]


Optogenetic Examination of Prefrontal-Amygdala Synaptic Development. 2017. Arruda-Carvalho M, Wu WC, Cummings KA, Clem RL. J Neurosci. 2017 Mar 15;37(11):2976-2985. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3097-16.2017.

The BigLEN-GPR171 Peptide Receptor System Within the Basolateral Amygdala Regulates Anxiety-Like Behavior and Contextual Fear Conditioning. 2017. Bobeck EN, Gomes I, Pena D, Cummings KA, Clem RL, Mezei M, Devi LA. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2017 Apr 20. doi: 10.1038/npp.2017.79.

Prazosin during threat discrimination boosts memory of the safe stimulus. 2017. Homan P, Murrough JW, Soleimani L, Bach DR, Clem RL, Schiller D. Learning and Memory. In press.


Clem RL, Schiller D. New Learning and Unlearning: Strangers or Accomplices in Threat Memory Attenuation? Trends Neurosci. 2016 May;39(5):340-51. doi: 10.1016/j.tins.2016.03.003. Epub 2016 Apr 12.

Elizabeth K. Lucas, Anita M. Jegarl, Hirofumi Morishita, Roger L. Clem. Multimodal and Site-Specific Plasticity of Amygdala Parvalbumin Interneurons after Fear Learning. Neuron. 2016 Jul 12. pii: S0896-6273(16)30310-5. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2016.06.032. [Epub ahead of print].


Arruda-Carvalho M, Clem RL. Prefrontal-amygdala fear networks come into focus. Front Syst Neurosci. 2015 Oct 30;9:145. doi: 10.3389/fnsys.2015.00145. eCollection 2015


Arruda-Carvalho M, Clem RL. Pathway-Selective Adjustment of Prefrontal-Amygdala Transmission during Fear Encoding.J Neurosci. 2014 Nov 19;34(47):15601-9. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2664-14.2014.

Steinfurth EC, Kanen JW, Raio CM, Clem RL, Huganir RL, Phelps EA. Young and old Pavlovian fear memories can be modified with extinction training during reconsolidation in humans. Learn Mem. 2014 Jun 16;21(7):338-41.

Lucas, EK, A Jegarl and RL Clem. 2014. Mice lacking TrkB in parvalbumin-positive cells exhibit sexually dimorphic behavioral phenotypes. Behavioural Brain Research: advance online Aug 12.


Clem, RL, RL Huganir. 2013. Norepinephrine enhances a discrete form of long-term depression during fear memory storage. J Neurosci 33(29): 11825-32. PMC3713724.

Ming-Sia, G, RL Clem and RL Huganir. 2013. The human language-associated gene SRPX2 regulates synapse formation and vocalization in mice. Science 342(6161):987-91.


Anggono V, Clem RL, Huganir RL. PICK1 loss of function occludes homeostatic synaptic scaling. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience 2011 Feb; 31(6).

Meet the Team

Sabina Bayshtok

Sabina Bayshtok

Research Associate

Kirstie Cummings, PhD

Kirstie Cummings, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow

Anthony Lacagnina, Ph.D.

Anthony Lacagnina, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow

Ciorana Roman-Ortiz

Ciorana Roman-Ortiz

PhD Student

Darpan Chakraborty, Ph.D.

Darpan Chakraborty, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow

Beth Lucas, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow (alumni)

Current position: Assistant Professor, North Carolina State University

Maithe Carvalho, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow (alumni)

Current position: Assistant Professor, University of Toronto Scarborough

Wan-Chen (Amy) Wu

Master's Student (alumni)

Current position: PhD Student, University of Texas Health Sciences Center at San Antonio

Anita Jegarl

Undergraduate Researcher (alumni)

Current position: Undergraduate student, Cornell University

Atichai Suwannapeng

Undergraduate Researcher (alumni)

Kristina Cechova

Undergraduate Researcher (alumni)

Emily Beckett

Undergraduate Researcher (alumni)


Specialized Nerve Cells in Brain Region Responsible for Emotional Memory Play Important Role in Fear Learning

Fear memory encoding, the process responsible for persistent reactions to trauma-associated cues, is influenced by a sparse but potent population of inhibitory cells called parvalbumin-interneurons (PV-INs) in the amygdala, according to a study conducted at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and published online July 14 in the journal Neuron. Read More.

An Uninstall Function for Fear Memory

Memory is the essence of human identity. For some, however, a painful past is like a debilitating emotional storm lurking behind the most insignificant of reminders. Coping in the aftermath of trauma can be aided by pharmacology and psychological therapy, but these approaches leave underlying emotion subject to resurface when least expected. The question of how to permanently silence traumatic memories, however, has long eluded clinicians. In my postdoctoral work under Rick Huganir, I made a critical advance toward this goal. Read more.

Scientists Gain Insights into how to Erase Pathological Fear

The voicemail rant. The overheard insult. The lonely moral slip when your chips were down.

Despite their sting, these unkind memories eventually slacken their grip. We manage, move on, shrug it off, and go about the business of filling our heads with thoughts of a better tomorrow. Read More.

Job Openings

Graduate and Postdoctoral Positions

Graduate and postdoctoral positions are available to study the cellular and circuit basis of fear conditioning and extinction, with a special interest in molecular and synaptic contributions to memory storage and updating. Special consideration will be given to postdoctoral applicants with experience in brain slice and/or in vivo electrophysiology, rodent behavior, optogenetics and intracranial surgery.

To inquire about positions, please send you curriculum vitae and the names of at least 3 references to