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Benjamin Clark

Assistant Professor

Photo: Benjamin Clark
Email: 
bnjclark@unm.edu
Phone: 
505-277-2081
Office: 
Logan Hall Rm 174
Education: 
Ph.D., Psychological and Brain Sciences, Dartmouth College
Lab Website
 

Research Area/s:

Cognition, Brain and Behavior

Research Interests:

  • Neurobiology of spatial orientation, navigation, and memory
  • Alzheimer's disease, dementia, and spatial memory
  • Alcohol exposure and spatial memory
  • High-density electrophysiology in behaving animals
  • Viral-mediated circuit mapping and functional connectivity

Profile:

Dr. Benjamin Clark is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of New Mexico. Before coming to New Mexico, Dr. Clark received a BSc in Neuroscience at the University of
Lethbridge, and a PhD in Psychological and Brain Sciences from Dartmouth College. Dr. Clark maintains an active laboratory at the University of New Mexico including several undergraduate research assistants and graduate students. Much of the research in Dr. Clark’s laboratory is aimed at better understanding the neurobiological mechanisms underlying our internal sense of spatial orientation, with particular emphasis on a class of limbic system and hippocampal neurons that behave much like a neural map and compass, called ‘place cells, grid cells, and ‘head direction’ cells. A broad aim of this research program is to further understand the structural and functional loss in dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and after alcohol exposure, all of which are marked by spatial disorientation and memory decline. Dr. Clark’s laboratory uses a combination of techniques to map the functional connectivity of neural systems involved in spatial orientation including electrophysiology recordings in behaving rodents, neuroanatomical tracing, and immediate early gene markers of neural activity and plasticity within circuits during behaviorally relevant events.

Selected Publications

  • Clark, B.J., Simmons, C.M., Berkowitz ,L.E., Wilber, A.A. (2018). The retrosplenial-parietal network and reference frame coordination for spatial navigation. Behavioral Neuroscience, in press.
  • Harvey, R.E., Rutan, S.A., Willey, G.R., Siegel, J.J., Clark, B.J., Yoder, R.M. (2018). Linear self-motion cues support the spatial distribution and stability of hippocampal place cells. Current Biology, 28, 1-8.
  • Pentkowski, N.S., Berkowitz, L.E., Thompson, S.M., Drake, E.N., Olguin, C., Clark, B.J. (2018). Anxiety-like behavior as an early endophenotype in the TgF344-AD rat model of Alzheimer’s disease. Neurobiology of Aging, 61, 169-176.
  • Hernandez, A.R., Reasor, J., Truckenbrod, L.M., Campos, K.T., Federico, Q.P., Fertal, K.E., Lubke, K.M., Johnson, S.A., Clark, B.J., Maurer, A.P., Burke, S.N. (2018). Dissociable effects of advanced age on prefrontal cortical and medial temporal lobe ensemble activity. Neurobiology of Aging, 70, 217-232.

Courses Taught

  • Psychology 240: Brain and Behavior
  • Psychology 344: Human Neuropsychology
  • Psychology 345: Neuroscience of Aging and Dementia
  • Psychology 450: Philosophy of Neuroscience

Lab

Graduate Students

  • Laura Berkowitz--Head direction cells and spatial disorientation in Alzheimer's disease
  • Tia Donaldson--Limbic system structural change and spatial disorientation in Alzheimer's disease
  • Ryan Harvey--Hippocampal place cell mechanisms of spatial memory impairment after prenatal alcohol exposure
  • Lilliana Sanchez--Prenatal alcohol exposure and memory in object and object place discrimination

Note:  If you are interested in pursuing graduate studies in my laboratory, please contact me (bnjclark@unm.edu).  Good GRE scores and academic performance are expected.  Emphasis will be placed on research experience, publications/presentations, and letters of reference.