Beth Buffalo is a neuroscientist exploring the neural mechanisms that support learning and memory. She is widely recognized for her studies on the relationships between eye movements and neural activity in the hippocampus and adjacent cortical structures, and for her discovery of grid cells in the macaque entorhinal cortex related to eye movements. Buffalo was born and raised in Little Rock, Arkansas. She received a B.A. in Philosophy from Wellesley College, and an M.A. (Philosophy) and Ph.D. (Neurosciences) from the University of California, San Diego. She was a postdoctoral scholar in the Laboratory of Neuropsychology at the National Institutes of Health. Buffalo joined the faculty at Emory University in 2005, and then moved her lab to the University of Washington in 2013, where she currently serves as the Wayne E. Crill Endowed Professor and Chair of Physiology and Biophysics. She has received several awards for her research including the Troland Research Award from the National Academy of Sciences for her innovative, multidisciplinary study of the hippocampus and the neural basis of memory.

Research Interests

Beth Buffalo's research is focused on contributing to a better understanding of the neuronal mechanisms involved in the establishment and maintenance of memory. Towards this goal, her laboratory has used large-scale neurophysiological recordings and naturalistic behavioral tasks in nonhuman primates to examine the role of neural circuits and dynamics in memory and cognition. Using tasks of free-viewing, they identified neural signals in the macaque hippocampus and entorhinal cortex that were modulated by eye movements, and the strength of this modulation was related to the strength of memory formation. Using behavioral tasks in virtual reality, their work has demonstrated sequential activity among populations of neurons in the macaque hippocampus that reflect the progression of experience through salient task events. While hippocampal neurons have been most often studied relative to their spatial correlates, Buffalo's research has demonstrated that these neurons respond in a variety of tasks without an explicit spatial component.

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Primary Section

Section 28: Systems Neuroscience

Secondary Section

Section 52: Psychological and Cognitive Sciences