Fred Helmstetter


Ph.D., Dartmouth College, 1989


Office: Garland Hall 207

Phone: (414) 229-4903




The primary focus of our work is on understanding the neural systems underlying complex psychological phenomena like learning, memory, and emotion. We are interested in how memory is stored in the brain, how experience and learning can modify the nervous system, and how brain systems work together to solve these problems. While the emphasis in my lab is on basic science rather than on neuropathology or mental disorders, some of the fundamental questions we’re addressing can relate to clinical problems. We take a multi-level approach which includes molecular neurobiology, functional brain imaging, and behavioral studies in humans and laboratory animals.

Research projects currently underway include:

  • Studies on the molecular mechanisms involved in long-term memory formation with a focus on neuronal protein synthesis and degradation.
  • Examining some of the neurobiological mechanisms through which motivation and emotion can influence learning and perception.
  • Circuit analysis of fear learning focused on interactions between the amygdala, hippocampus and prefrontal cortex.
  • Functional mapping of brain circuits important for implicit and explicit memory performance using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in human volunteers. The role of awareness and consciousness in learning.

I am currently interested in taking new Ph.D. students and postdocs. Federally funded RA positions are available to qualified students. Please feel free to e-mail me for further details.