Message From the Director

Welcome to the Lipschultz Center for Cognitive Neuroscience at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

Diseases of the memory strike at the foundation of human nature and identity. The drive to understand disorders of memory and cognition, and to work toward discovering treatments for them, inspired me to pursue a career in cognitive neuroscience.

At the Lipschultz Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, we aim to understand how behavior and cognition arise from the integrative activity of cells and circuits in the brain, across the lifespan and across species. The explosion of sophisticated technical approaches in neuroscience allows more and more precise interrogation of the role of specific brain systems in behavior, but technology is only useful when applied in the context of theory and careful experimental design. In our work, we seek to be guided by fundamental problems in understanding cognition in the brain, rather than being led by particular techniques.

"There are several diseases of the memory. Forgetfulness of nouns, for instance, or of numbers. Or there are more complex amnesias. With one, you can lose your entire past; you start afresh, learning how to tie your shoelaces, how to eat with a fork, how to read and sing. You are introduced to your relatives, and your oldest friends, as if you’ve never met them before; you get a second chance with them, better than forgiveness because you can begin innocent. With another form, you keep the distant past but lose the present. You can’t remember what happened five minutes ago. When someone you’ve known all your life goes out of the room and then comes back in, you greet them as if they’ve been gone for twenty years; you weep and weep, with joy and relief, as if at a reunion with the dead."
- Margaret Atwood, Cat's Eye

The most exciting insights into how complex cognitive functions arise from cellular activity in the brain have come forth, in my opinion, at the interface between researchers working in different subfields of behavioral and cognitive neuroscience. This observation guides the interactions of scientists in the Lipschultz Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, where we aim for crosstalk among scientists with diverse interests and research questions. Here, we also have a strong philosophy of fostering diversity and inclusion of individuals from a variety of experiences and backgrounds in our research enterprise, to promote new and innovative perspectives on the problems we are seeking to solve.

The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, with its emphasis on open and collegial collaboration and exchange of ideas and expertise, provides an ideal setting for us to carry out our work. The researchers in the Lipschultz Center for Cognitive Neuroscience are well-positioned within this remarkable intellectual atmosphere to make discoveries to improve the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disorders of memory and cognition, and to help individuals that are faced with these challenging conditions. We look forward to helping improve the lives of people affected with cognitive disorders.

Welcome to our community.

Mark Baxter, PhD