Skip to main content
COVID-19 is an emerging, rapidly evolving situation.

Get the latest public health information from CDC:
Get the latest research information from NIH:

Profile Image


Heather A. Cameron, Ph.D.

Section on Neuroplasticity

Porter Neuroscience Research Center
Building 35 Room 3C-915
35 Lincoln Drive MSC3718
Bethesda MD 20892-3718
Office: (301) 496-3814

Fax: (301) 480-4564

Dr. Cameron received her B.S. from Yale University and her Ph.D. from the Rockefeller University, where she worked with Bruce McEwen and Elizabeth Gould examining neurogenesis in the adult rat dentate gyrus. During a postdoctoral fellowship with Ron McKay at NINDS, she determined the magnitude of adult neurogenesis in the dentate gyrus and investigated the effects of stress hormones on neurogenesis in the aging rat hippocampus. Dr. Cameron joined the Mood and Anxiety Disorders Program at NIMH as an Investigator in 2001. Her laboratory studies the regulation of adult neurogenesis and the role of the newly-born neurons in normal hippocampal function as well as in diseases involving the hippocampus.

The dentate gyrus is one of only two brain regions that continue to produce large numbers of new neurons during adulthood. The goal of our research is to understand the function of adult neurogenesis by studying the regulation of granule cell development, the activation of the new neurons, and the behavioral consequences of inhibiting neurogenesis.

One focus of our work is understanding the activation of granule cells at different ages. New granule cells mature over several weeks, but it is unclear whether they become functional while they are immature, and both highly excitable and highly plastic, or whether they contribute to hippocampal function only after they mature and have properties more like the rest of the granule cell population. This issue is important, because it is related to the larger question of whether granule cells continue to be generated in order to increase the size of the granule cell population or whether the young neurons have a different function than the mature granule cells. If young granule cells do have a unique function, what is the time window during which they perform this function?

Another aspect of our work involves exploring the effects of inhibiting adult neurogenesis on behavior. We have found that mice lacking adult neurogenesis show heightened responses to psychosocial stress; it takes longer for corticosteroid levels to return to baseline levels after stress in these mice. In addition, they show increased depressive-like behavior in stressful tests or after being stressed. We are interested in learning more about how the new neurons normally buffer against depressive-like behavior. In addition, we are investigating how the stress buffering property of new neurons relates to a function for adult neurogenesis in learning and memory.

Rate of Neurogenesis

5 newly-born granule cells labeled with BrdU and TUC-4

This photo shows dentate gyrus granule cells born in the adult rat over the course of one week. New DNA in dividing cells was labeled with the thymidine analogue, BrdU, injected every other day for one week. Green=BrdU. Red=TUC-4, a marker of immature neurons. Blue=nuclear counterstain.

We have recently found that there are approximately 9400 proliferative cells in the dentate gyrus of young adult rats. These cells divide with a cell cycle time of 25 hours, generating 9000 new cells each day, or more than 250,000 per month. Within one week of their final division, 50% of the newly-generated cells in the adult dentate gyrus can be identified as neurons with the antibody markers TuJ1 and TUC-4. This number of new granule neurons generated each month is 6% of the total size of the granule cell population, and 30-60% of the size of the afferent and efferent populations (stellate cells in the entorhinal cortex and CA3 pyramidal cells). The large number of the adult-generated granule cells supports the idea that these new neurons play an important role in hippocampal function.

Staff Image
  • Talia Akoh-Arrey, B.S.
    Postbaccalaureate IRTA

  • Michelle Brewer, M.S.
    Laboratory Manager
    (301) 451-8281

  • Nicholas Bulthuis, B.S.
    Postbaccalaureate IRTA

  • Natalie Freedgood, B.S.
    Post baccalaureate IRTA Fellow

  • Rose-Marie Karlsson, Ph.D.
    Staff Scientist
    (301) 496-8281

  • Jenny Kim, Ph.D.
    Postdoctoral IRTA Fellow

  • Mumeko Tsuda, Ph.D.
    Postdoctoral Fellow

  • 1) Schoenfeld TJ, Rhee D, Martin L, Smith J, Sonti A, Padmanaban VS, Cameron HA (2019)
  • New neurons restore structural and behavioral abnormalities in a rat model of PTSD
  • Hippocampus, in press
  • 2) Cameron HA, Schoenfeld TJ (2018)
  • Behavioral and structural adaptations to stress
  • Front Neuroendocrinol, 49, 106-113
  • 3) Kempermann G, Gage FH, Aigner L, Song H, Curtis MA, Thuret S, Kuhn HG, Jessberger S, Frankland PW, Cameron HA, Gould E, Hen R, Abrous DN, Toni N, Schinder AF, Zhao X, Lucassen PJ, Frisén J (2018)
  • Human Adult Neurogenesis: Evidence and Remaining Questions
  • Cell Stem Cell, 23, 25-30
  • 4) Karlsson RM, Wang AS, Sonti AN, Cameron HA (2018)
  • Adult neurogenesis affects motivation to obtain weak, but not strong, reward in operant tasks.
  • Hippocampus, 28, 512-522
  • 5) Pothayee N, Cummings D, Schoenfeld T, Dodd S, Cameron H, Belluscio L, Koretsky A (2017)
  • Magnetic resonance imaging of odorant activity-dependent migration of neural precursor cells and olfactory bulb growth.
  • Neuroimage, 158, 232-241
  • 6) Glover LR, Schoenfeld TJ, Karlsson RM, Bannerman DM, Cameron HA (2017)
  • Ongoing neurogenesis in the adult dentate gyrus mediates behavioral responses to ambiguous threat cues
  • PLOS Biology, 15, e2001154
  • 7) Schoenfeld TJ, McCausland HC, Morris HD, Padmanaban V, Cameron HA (2017)
  • Stress and Loss of Adult Neurogenesis Differentially Reduce Hippocampal Volume
  • Biological Psychiatry, 82, 914-923
  • 8) Snyder JS, Grigereit L, Seib D, Brewer M, Pickel J, Cameron HA (2016)
  • A Transgenic Rat for Specifically Inhibiting Adult Neurogenesis
  • eNeuro, 3
  • 9) Soumier A, Carter RM, Schoenfeld TJ, Cameron HA (2016)
  • New Hippocampal Neurons Mature Rapidly in Response to Ketamine But Are Not Required for Its Acute Antidepressant Effects on Neophagia in Rats.
  • eNeuro, 3, ENEURO.0116-15.2016
  • 10) Inta D, Cameron HA, Gass P (2015)
  • New neurons in the adult striatum: from rodents to humans.
  • Trends Neurosci, 38, 517-23
  • 11) Cameron HA, Glover LR (2015)
  • Adult neurogenesis: beyond learning and memory.
  • Annu Rev Psychol, 66, 53-81
  • 12) Cummings DM, Snyder JS, Brewer M, Cameron HA, Belluscio L (2014)
  • Adult neurogenesis is necessary to refine and maintain circuit specificity.
  • J Neurosci, 34, 13801-10
  • 13) Snyder JS, Ferrante S, Cameron HA (2012)
  • Late maturation of adult-born neurons in the temporal dentate gyrus.
  • PLoS One, 7, e48757
  • 14) Snyder JS, Clifford MA, Jeurling SI, Cameron HA (2012)
  • Complementary activation of hippocampal-cortical subregions and immature neurons following chronic training in single and multiple context versions of the water maze.
  • Behav Brain Res, 227, 330-339
  • 15) Snyder JS, Soumier A, Brewer M, Pickel J, Cameron HA (2011)
  • Adult hippocampal neurogenesis buffers stress responses and depressive behavior.
  • Nature, 476, 459-461
  • 16) Lin L, Murphy JG, Karlsson RM, Petralia RS, Gutzmann JJ, Abebe D, Wang YX, Cameron HA, Hoffman DA (2018)
  • DPP6 Loss Impacts Hippocampal Synaptic Development and Induces Behavioral Impairments in Recognition, Learning and Memory
  • From Cell Neurosci, 12, 84
  • 17) Akins MR, Berk-Rauch HE, Kwan KY, Mitchell ME, Shepard KA, Korsak LI, Stackpole EE, Warner-Schmidt JL, Sestan N, Cameron HA, Fallon JR (2017)
  • Axonal ribosomes and mRNAs associate with fragile X granules in adult rodent and human brains
  • Hum Mol Genet, 26, 192-209
  • 18) Pelkey KA, Barksdale E, Craig MT, Yuan X, Sukumaran M, Vargish GA, Mitchell RM, Wyeth MS, Petralia RS, Chittajallu R, Karlsson RM, Cameron HA, Murata Y, Colonnese MT, Worley PF, McBain CJ (2015)
  • Pentraxins Coordinate Excitatory Synapse Maturation and Circuit Integration of Parvalbumin Interneurons
  • Neuron, 85, 1257-1272
  • 19) Smart D, Garcia-Glaessner A, Palmieri D, Wong-Goodrich SJ, Kramp T, Gril B, Shukla S, Lyle T, Hua E, Cameron HA, Camphausen K, Steeg PS (2015)
  • Analysis of radiation therapy in a model of triple-negative breast cancer brain metastasis
  • Clin Exp Metastasis, 32, 717-727
  • 21) Dimitrov EL, Tsuda MC, Cameron HA, Usdin TB (2014)
  • Anxiety- and depression-like behavior and impaired neurogenesis evoked by peripheral neuropathy persist following resolution of prolonged tactile hypersensitivity.
  • J Neurosci, 34, 12304-12
  • 22) Snyder JS, Cameron HA (2011)
  • Could adult hippocampal neurogenesis be relevant for human behavior?
  • Behav Brain Res, online
  • 23) Snyder JS, Radik R, Wojtowicz JM, Cameron HA (2011)
  • Septo-temporal gradients of neurogenesis and activity in 13-month-old rats.
  • Neurobiol Aging, 32, 1149-1156
  • 24) Snyder JS, Choe J, Clifford M, Jeurling S, Hurley P, Brown A, Kamhi J, Cameron HA (2009)
  • Adult-born hippocampal neurons are more numerous, faster maturing and more involved in behavior in rats than in mice.
  • J Neurosci, 29, 14484-14495
  • 25) Snyder JS, Radik R, Wojtowicz JM, Cameron HA (2009)
  • Anatomical gradients of adult neurogenesis and activity: Young neurons in the ventral dentate gyrus are activated by water maze training
  • Hippocampus, 19, 360-370
  • 26) Snyder JS, Radik R, Wojtowicz JM, Cameron HA (2009)
  • Anatomical gradients of adult neurogenesis and activity: young neurons in the ventral dentate gyrus are activated by water maze training
  • Hippocampus, 19, 360-370
  • 27) Snyder JS, Glover L, Sanzone KM, Kamhi JF, Cameron HA (2009)
  • The effects of exercise and stress on the survival and maturation of adult-generated granule cells
  • Hippocampus, 19, 898-906
  • 28) Cameron HA, Dayer AG (2008)
  • New interneurons in the adult neocortex: small, sparse, but significant?
  • Biological Psychiatry, 63, 650-655
  • 29) Cameron HA, Christie BR (2007)
  • Do New Neurons Have a Functional Role in the Adult Hippocampus?
  • Debates in Neuroscience, 1, 26-32
  • 30) Olariu A, Cleaver KM, Cameron HA (2007)
  • Decreased neurogenesis in aged rats results from loss of granule cell precursors without lengthening of the cell cycle
  • J Comp Neurol, 501, 659-667
  • 31) Karten YJ, Jones MA, Jeurling SI, Cameron HA (2006)
  • GABAergic signaling in young granule cells in the adult rat and mouse dentate gyrus
  • Hippocampus, 16, 312-320
  • 32) Christie BR, Cameron HA (2006)
  • Neurogenesis in the adult hippocampus.
  • Hippocampus, 16, 199-207
  • 33) Olariu A, Cleaver KM, Shore LE, Brewer MD, Cameron HA (2005)
  • A natural form of learning can increase and decrease the survival of new neurons in the dentate gyrus
  • Hippocampus, 15, 750-762
  • 34) Dayer AG, Cleaver KM, Abouantoun T, Cameron HA (2005)
  • New GABAergic interneurons in the adult neocortex and striatum are generated from different precursors
  • J Cell Biol, 168, 415-427
  • 35) Karten YJG, Olariu A, Cameron HA (2005)
  • Stress in early life inhibits neurogenesis in adulthood
  • Trends Neurosci, 28, 171-172
  • 36) Dayer AG, Ford AA, Cleaver KM, Yassaee M, Cameron HA (2003)
  • Short-term and long-term survival of new neurons in the rat dentate gyrus
  • J Comp Neurol, 460, 563-572
View Pubmed Publication
View/Hide All Publications