Having spent much of his scientific career studying the brains
of human patients and nonhuman primates, neuroscientist and Yerkes
Primate Research Center Director Stuart Zola has achieved remarkable
insights into one of the brain’s most essential but elusive
As part of the Great Teachers Lecture Series, Zola will use his
Jan. 16 lecture to explain how memory is formed, stored and retrieved,
and how memory function can be damaged or lost due to injury or
illness. He also will discuss different types of memory, the effects
of growth and aging on cognitive development and decline, and exciting
new research programs aimed at discovering more about how memory
problems occur and how they might be treated or prevented.
According to Zola, humans’ memories are more fluid and malleable
than we may realize, and false memories can seem astonishingly real.
But it is actually the loss of the ability to remember, known as
amnesia, that has helped scientists unlock the secrets of memory.
While at the University of California-San Diego, Zola and his colleagues
developed an animal model of human amnesia that conclusively identified
a group of interconnected brain structures critical to memory function.
His research has contributed significantly to the understanding
of memory loss in humans resulting from head trauma and that which
characterizes progressive diseases such as Alzheimer’s, as
well as less severe memory problems that often accompany depression,
chronic stress and normal aging.
Yerkes is one of eight designated National Primate Research Centers
that are supported by the National Institutes of Health. As Yerkes
director, Zola oversees broadly based research programs, funded
by $40.2 million in grants, that address health issues such as AIDS,
malaria and other infectious diseases, cocaine addiction, cardiovascular
disease, childhood visual deficits, organ transplantation, and cognitive
development and decline.
Yerkes scientists also study social behavior in nonhuman primates.
With more than 3,000 nonhuman primates and 2,500 rodents, the center
serves as a vital resource for
collaborative scientists at Emory and at other research institutions
throughout the United States and the world.
Before joining Emory in September 2001, Zola was a professor in
the departments of psychiatry and neurosciences at UC-San Diego
and also held the position of research career scientist at San Diego’s
Veterans Administration Medical Center. He is a member of several
scientific and professional societies, including the Society for
Neuroscience and the National Association for Biomedical Research,
and serves on the editorial advisory boards of the journals Cognitive
Brain Research and Behavioral and Neural Biology.
The lecture, which is free and open to the public, will be held
Thursday, Jan. 16, at
7:30 p.m. in Miller-Ward Alumni House. For more information, call