Aleena Garner

Aleena Garner

Assistant Professor of Neurobiology
Aleena Garner

The brain creates memories and expectations through experience interacting with the world around it and decides what it will do with its future given what it already knows and what it predicts will happen. The person in whom the brain resides is aware of some of these memories, expectations, and feelings and unaware of others. This ability keeps us safe. It is why we stop ourselves from entering a crosswalk in the street when we hear the sound of a siren drawing nearer. It is also why we have prejudice. We already believe something about the information that enters our brain (e.g. from the eyes and ears) instead of neutrally observing.

The goal of research in the Garner lab is to understand how the brain takes what it has already learned to implement expectations that alter our interpretation of what we see and hear. Our work focuses on how memory regulates the way auditory and visual information interact in the brain to create perception. Another related avenue of research in the lab addresses multisensory interactions in the brain. This work is imperative for expanding our understanding of the neural underpinnings of real-world perception during behavior and learning. Additionally, we study how multisensory processing is disrupted after trauma, in altered states such as mania and depression, and in brain disorders such as SDD (sensory discrimination disorder), SMD (sensory modulation disorder), bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. Importantly, our work aims to reveal neural pathways capable of plasticity and thus malleable for therapeutic interventions for such disorders.

We use cutting-edge optical and imaging techniques, genetics, and biochemistry in combination with behavior in live animals (mice) in virtual and real environments to address our questions.

Contact Information

Harvard Medical School
Goldenson 432
Boston, MA 02115