Columbia University in the City of New York

This DJ Searches for Memory

Meet Graduate Student Abhishek Shah, Neurobiology and Behavior Program

Abhishek Shah is fascinated by how you can remember a single experience in your life: how your brain binds together the what, the when and the where to recall, for instance, what you had for breakfast this morning. A graduate student in the Losonczy lab, he studies how neurons talk to each other in CA1, a region in the brain’s memory center, using lasers to probe individual cells. When not in the lab, this DJ helps to run Columbia University Neuroscience Outreach’s Late Night Science outreach program and teaches a neurobiology course for undergraduates. Photos by Thomas Barlow, a graduate student in the Axel lab.


Shah in the Education Lab, home to many of the institute’s public engagement events.


As mice navigate the virtual environment on these screens, Shah measures activity in CA1, a brain region important for remembering places.


A target aligns the laser beam of a microscope, used to stimulate cells.


A program visualizes neurons in the CA1 region as a microscope acquires data.


Graphs sketched on a window show the expected activity of brain cells in the CA1 region.


Shah works at the microscope.

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