James Knierim,PHD

Professor of Neuroscience, Mind Brain Institute

Specialization: Learning and memory in the hippocampal system


Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

3400 N. Charles Street

Krieger 337

Baltimore, MD 21218



Knierim Lab

The hippocampus is a brain structure that is crucial for learning and memory.  Patients with damage to the hippocampus lose the ability to form new, long-term memories about the events of their lives. 

A prominent theory holds that the hippocampus is the neural locus of a “cognitive map”—a mental representation of one’s surrounding environment and one’s location within it.  This map is thought to be the scaffold upon which the brain organizes and relates the individual components of an experience (the sights, sounds, thoughts, emotions) and stores it in such a way that it can be later retrieved as a conscious recollection.  To understand how these memories are represented, encoded, and stored in neural circuits, we record the activity of populations of neurons in the hippocampal system as rats perform various behavioral tasks.  We investigate the properties of hippocampal input structures (e.g., grid cells of the medial entorhinal cortex and object representations of the lateral entorhinal cortex), output structures (e.g., place cells of the CA1 region), and the intervening computational stages (e.g., granule cells and mossy cells of the dentate gyrus and the place cells of the CA3 region).  We collaborate with theorists and engineers to bridge the gap between experimental data and computational theory in order to understand the neural basis of memory and how it is affected during healthy and abnormal aging.


To advance neuroscience discovery by uniting neuroscience, engineering and computational data science to understand the structure and function of the brain.