Robert D. Hawkins, PhD

Robert D. Hawkins, PhD

Research Interest

We are investigating cellular mechanisms of learning and memory in a simple model system, the gill- and siphon-withdrawal reflex of Aplysia, focusing on two simple forms of learning, sensitization and classical conditioning. We use electrophysiological, imaging, and genetic methods to investigate cellular mechanisms of these forms of learning in isolated cell culture. We also study cellular mechanisms during learning in dissected preparations, in which it is possible to relate more directly the mechanisms to behavior.  We are currently using both preparations to investigate the roles and mechanisms of neurotrophin signaling in the consolidation of long-term synaptic plasticity and learning.  We have also investigated long-term potentiation (LTP) in the hippocampus, a long-lasting form of synaptic plasticity that is thought to be involved in mammalian learning and memory, and explored possible relationships between the mechanisms in these two systems.

  • Jin, I., Puthanveettil, S., Udo, H., Karl, K., Kandel, E.R., and Hawkins, R.D. (2012a). Spontaneous transmitter release is critical for the induction of long-term and intermediate-term facilitation in Aplysia. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 109: 9131-9136.
  • Jin, I., Udo, H., Rayman, J.B., Puthanveettil, S., Kandel, E.R., and Hawkins, R.D. (2012b). Spontaneous transmitter release recruits postsynaptic mechanisms of long-term and intermediate-term facilitation in Aplysia. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 109: 9137-9142.
  • Antonova, I., Lu, F.-M., Zablow, L., Udo, H., and Hawkins, R.D. (2009). Rapid and long-lasting increase in sites for synapse assembly during late-phase potentiation in rat hippocampal neurons. PLoS ONE 4: e7690. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0007690.
  • Antonov, I., Ha, T., Antonova, I., Moroz, L.L., and Hawkins, R.D. (2007). Role of nitric oxide in classical conditioning of siphon withdrawal in Aplysia. J. Neurosci. 27: 10993-11002.
  • Wang, H.-G., Lu, F.-M., Jin, I., Udo, H., Kandel, E.R., de Vente, J., Walter, U., Lohmann, S.M., Hawkins, R.D., and Antonova, I. (2005). Presynaptic and postsynaptic roles of NO, cGK, and RhoA in long-lasting potentiation and aggregation of synaptic proteins. Neuron 45: 389-403.
  • Antonov, I., Antonova, I., Kandel, E.R., and Hawkins, R. D. (2003). Activity-dependent presynaptic facilitation and Hebbian LTP are both required and interact during classical conditioning in Aplysia. Neuron 37: 135-147.
  • Antonova, I., Arancio, O., Trillat, A.-C., Wang, H.-G., Zablow, L., Udo, H., Kandel, E.R., and Hawkins, R.D. (2001). Rapid increase in clusters of presynaptic proteins at onset of long-lasting potentiation. Science 294: 1547-1550.