Dmitriy Aronov, PhD

  • Assistant Professor of Neuroscience
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Academic Appointments

  • Assistant Professor of Neuroscience


  • Male


The ultimate goal of my lab is to understand the relationship between neuronal activity dynamics and the states of cognitive experience, like memories and thoughts. We focus on the hippocampal/entorhinal system, which is critically involved in the formation and retrieval of memories. Studies of this circuit have traditionally focused on navigation, uncovering a rich representation of spatial variables in the firing of its neurons. Yet, spatial location is only one component of memory. Beyond location, memories contain a mix of sensory, temporal, behavioral and emotional information. We are trying to understand how all these diverse types of information are encoded in the hippocampal/entorhinal system and bound together into a coherent representation.

Rat virtual reality. In one line of research, we are developing and using rat virtual reality (VR) systems in order to obtain unprecedented experimental control of the animal’s sensory environment. VR allows rapid, closed-loop manipulations of the animal’s sensory and behavioral context, coupled with uninterrupted neural recordings and manipulations. We are beginning to understand how behaviorally relevant sensory information is organized in the activity of the hippocampal/entorhinal circuit. By training rats to perform sophisticated memory-guided tasks in VR, we also aim to understand how the states of activity in this circuit contribute to behaviors that require memory retrieval.

Food caching by birds. In a parallel line of research, we will study how memories are processed during a fascinating and highly specialized behavior – the caching and subsequent retrieval of hidden food items by black-capped chickadees. Chickadees use their hippocampal formation to perform this memory-guided task. However, compared to its mammalian counterpart, the avian hippocampal system is anatomically simpler and more tractable on the circuit level. Using automated laboratory caching arenas inspired by VR, combined with miniaturized technologies for small birds, we plan to investigate neural representations of cache memories and the contributions of these representations to behavior.

Research Interests

  • Cognitive/Systems Neuroscience
  • Neurobiology of Learning and Memory
  • Neuroethology
  • Systems and Circuits

Selected Publications

1. Aronov, D. and Tank, D.W. (2014) Engagement of the neural circuits underlying 2D spatial navigation in a rodent virtual reality system. Neuron 84(2): 442-56.

2. Aronov, D. and Fee, M.S. (2012) Natural changes in brain temperature underlie variations in song tempo during a mating behavior. PLoS One 7(10):e47856. PMCID3480430.

3. Aronov, D., Veit, L., Goldberg, J.H., and Fee, M.S. (2011) Two distinct modes of forebrain circuit dynamics underlie temporal patterning in the vocalizations of young songbirds. J Neurosci 31(45):16353-68. PMCID3241969.

4. Veit, L., Aronov, D., and Fee, M.S. (2011) Learning to breathe and sing: development of respiratory-vocal coordination in young songbirds. J Neurophysiol 106(4):1747-65. PMCID3191841.

5. Ölveczky, B., Otchy, T., Goldberg, J.H., Aronov, D., and Fee, M.S. (2011) Changes in the neural control of a complex motor sequence during learning. J Neurophysiol 197(1): 32-47. PMCID3129720.

6. Aronov, D. and Fee, M.S. (2011) Analyzing the dynamics of brain circuits with temperature: design and implementation of a miniature thermoelectric device. J Neurosci Methods 197(1): 32-47. PMCID3070058.

7. Aronov, D., Andalman, A.S., Fee, M.S. (2008) A specialized forebrain circuit for vocal babbling in the juvenile songbird. Science 320(5876):630-4.

8. Crepel, V., Aronov, D., Represa, A., Ben-Ari, Y., and Cossart R. (2007) A parturition-associated nonsynaptic coherent activity pattern in the developing hippocampus. Neuron 54(1):105-20.

9. Aronov, D. and Victor, J.D. (2004) Non-Euclidean properties of spike train metric spaces. Phys Rev E 69(6 Pt 1): 061905. PMCID2911631.

10. Ikegaya, Y., Aaron, G., Cossart, R., Aronov, D., Lampl, I., Ferster, D., and Yuste, R. (2004) Synfire chains and cortical songs: elastic temporal modules of cortical activity. Science 304(5670): 559-64.

11. Goldberg, J.H., Tamas, G., Aronov, D., and Yuste, R. (2003) Calcium microdomains in aspiny dendrites. Neuron 40(4): 807-21.

12. Aronov, D., Reich, D.S., Mechler, F., and Victor, J.D. (2003) Neural coding of spatial phase in V1 of the macaque monkey. J Neurophysiol 89(6): 3304-27.

13. Cossart, R., Aronov, D. and Yuste, R. (2003) Attractor dynamics of network UP states in the neocortex. Nature 423(6937): 283-8.

14. Aronov, D. (2003) Fast algorithm for the metric-space analysis of simultaneous responses of multiple single neurons. J Neurosci Methods 124(2): 175-9.

15. Mao, B.Q., Hamzei-Sichani, F., Aronov, D., Froemke, R.C. and Yuste, R. (2001) Dynamics of spontaneous activity in neocortical slices. Neuron 32(5): 883-98.