Rebecca Burwell, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology
Cognitive, Linguistic, and Psychological Sciences
Work: +1 401-863-9208
My research program uses neuroanatomical, experimental lesion, optogenetic, and electrophysiological approaches to examine the contribution of brain regions adjacent to the hippocampus (including the perirhinal, postrhinal/parahippocampal, and entorhinal cortices) to memory and to other higher cognitive functions.
BiographyDr. Burwell received her doctorate in Experimental and Biological Psychology from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1992. Her postdoctoral training in neuroanatomy and electrophysiology was at The Salk Institute for Biological Studies and the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience at The State University of New York at Stony Brook. She has been at Brown since 1996 and is a Professor in the Department of Cognitive, Linguistic, and Psychological Sciences with a secondary appointment in the Department of Neuroscience. Dr. Burwell trains graduate students in the Psychology Graduate Program and in the Neuroscience Graduate Program.
Research DescriptionFor decades the hippocampus has been the focus of research on the neural basis of memory. Studies conducted over the last few years have provided evidence that cortical areas surrounding the hippocampus contribute to some forms of memory. Given the long-standing concept that the hippocampus serves a critical role in memory processes, the finding that some memory tasks are sensitive to lesions of these adjacent cortical regions, alone, has highlighted the need for close examination of the function of those adjacent structures. My research program uses neuroanatomical, experimental lesion, and electrophysiological approaches to examine the contribution of these regions, including the perirhinal, postrhinal/parahippocampal, and entorhinal cortices, to memory and to other higher cognitive functions. Among other approaches, we employ single-unit recording in behaving animals to examine neuronal firing correlates of behavioral events in tasks that tap such functions as spatial memory, recognition memory, configuration of multiple stimuli, attentional processes, and the processing of context. These approaches are used to differentiate the function of these cortical regions from each other and from those of the hippocampus.
Grants and Awards
- National Merit Scholarship, 1971-1974
University Scholar, Southern Methodist University, 1973-1974
B.A. Magna Cum Laude, 1974
James R. Kenan Graduate Fellowship, UNC, 08/87-05/88
National Science Foundation (NSF) Predoctoral Fellowship, 06/88-05/91
American Psychological Association Division 20 Student Research Award, 1991
National Institutes of Health Predoctoral Fellowship, 06/91-08/92
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Postdoctoral Fellowship, 12/92-11/95
McDonnell-Pew Fellowship to attend the Cold Spring Harbor Biology of Memory Course, Summer 1993
NIMH BSTART Award: The Contribution of the Perirhinal Cortex to Configural Learning, 1997-98
NSF Career Development Award: Cognitive Functions of the Postrhinal Cortex, 1999-2003
Karen T. Romer Prize for Undergraduate Advising and Mentoring, 2011
- American Psychological Association
- American Psychological Society
- Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society
- Society for Neuroscience
- NIH Neurobiology of Learning and Memory Study Section, Center for Scientific Review (LAM, formerly IFCN7), permanent member, 2003-2007.
- Reviewing Editor, Hippocampus.
- Reviewing Editor, Frontiers in Neuroanatomy.
- Reviewing Editor, Behavioral Neuroscience.
- Ad hoc reviewer: Journal of Comparative Neurology, Journal of Neuroscience, Journal of Neurophysiology, Neuroscience, Neurobiology of Aging, Neurobiology of Learning & Memory, European Journal of Neuroscience, PNAS, and Cerebral Cortex.
Funded ResearchCurrent grants
- National Science Foundation (NSF) Award: Cognitive Functions of the Postrhinal Cortex (07/2012-06/2016). PI: Burwell
- NSF EFRI Award (EFRI 0937848) Dynamic Sensing and Actuating of Sensory and Motor Neural Microcircuits, 2009-2013, PI: Nurmikko, Co-PI: Burwell.
- DARPA: Brain Reorganization and Plasticity to Accelerate Injury Recovery: Multi-scale and Multi-modal Models Enabled by Next Generation Neurotechnology, 09/2010-08/2014, Stanford PI: Krishna Shenoy, Brown PI: Nurmikko, Co-PI: Connors, Subcontract: Burwell.
- National Science Foundation (NSF) Award: Cognitive Functions of the Postrhinal Cortex (07/2005-06/2011). PI: Burwell
- National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) R01, Corticohippocampal Systems and Function in the Mouse,(05/00-04/05). PI: Burwell.
- Brain Science Program Pilot Grant (internal): The Postrhinal Cortex and Fear Conditioning,(2006). PI: Burwell, Collaborator: Mehta.
- NSF Career Award: Cognitive Functions of the Postrhinal Cortex,(1998-2003). PI: Burwell.
- NIMH BSTART Award: The Contribution of the Perirhinal Cortex to Configural Learning, (04/97-04/98). PI: Burwell.
- Solomon Research Award (internal): The Postrhinal Cortex and Fear Conditioning, (1997). PI: Burwell.
My teaching interests are in the theory, history, literature, and techniques of behavioral neuroscience, particularly the areas if memory and attention. I am also interested in increasing the numbers of individuals who are underrepresented in the field of neuroscience through teaching and mentoring.
- Laboratory in Genes and Behavior (CLPS1193)
- Memory and the Brain (CLPS1150)
- Neural Basis of Cognition (CLPS1400)
- Beaudin, S.A., Singh, T., Agster, K.L., and Burwell, R.D. (2012). Borders and Comparative Cytoarchitecture of the Perirhinal and Postrhinal Cortices in an F1 Hybrid Mouse. Cerebral cortex. Feb 23. [Epub ahead of print] (2013)
- Futak, S.C., Ahmed, O.J., and Burwell, R.D. (2012). Single neuron activity and theta modulation in postrhinal cortex during visual object discrimination, Neuron 76, 976988. (2012)
- Sills, J.B., Connors, B.W., and Burwell, R.D. (2012). Electrophysiological and morphological properties of neurons in layer 5 of the rat postrhinal cortex. Hippocampus. Sep. 22(9):1912-22. (2012)
- Gastelum, E.D., Guilhardi, P., and Burwell, R.D. (2012). The effects of combined perirhinal and postrhinal damage on complex discrimination tasks. Hippocampus. Oct. 22 (10):2059-67. (2012)
- Wang, J., Wagner, F., Borton, D.A., Zhang, J., Ozden, I., Burwell, R.D., Nurmikko, A.V., van Wagenen, R., Diester, I., and Deisseroth, K. (2012). Integrated device for combined optical neuromodulation and electrical recording for chronic in vivo applications. J. Neural Eng 9, 016001. (2012)
- Casten, K.S., Gray, A.C., and Burwell, R.D. (2011). Discrimination Learning and Attentional Set Formation in a Mouse Model of Fragile X. Behav. Neurosci. 125(3):473-9. (2011)
- Jing, W., Wagner, F., Borton, D. A., Jiayi, Z., Ozden, I., Burwell, R. D., & Nurmikko, A. V., van Wagenen, R. (2011) Integrated Device for Combined Optical Neuromodulation and Electrical Recording for Chronic In Vivo Applications. J. Neuroengineering. (2011)
- Jing, W., Borton, D. A., Jiayi, Z., Burwell, R. D., & Nurmikko, A. V. (2010). A neurophotonic device for stimulation and recording of neural microcircuits. Paper presented at the Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC), 2010 Annual International Conference of the IEEE. (2010)
- Furtak, S.C., Cho, C.E., Kerr, K.M., Barredo, J.L., Alleyne, J.E., Patterson, Y.R. & Burwell, R.D. (2009). The Floor Projection Maze: A novel behavioral apparatus for presenting visual stimuli to rodents, Journal of Neuroscience Methods, 181(1):82-8. (2009)
- Burwell, R. D., & Agster, K. L. (2009). Anatomy of the Hippocampus and the Declarative Memory System. In J. H. Byrne (Ed.), Concise Learning and Memory: The Editor's Selection (pp. 189-208). London: Academic Press. (2009)
- Agster, K.L. & Burwell, R. D. (2009) Cortical efferents of the perirhinal, postrhinal, and entorhinal cortices, Hippocampus. 19(12):1159-86. (2009)
- Burwell, R. D., & Furtak, S. C. (2008). Recognition memory: can you teach an old dogma new tricks? Neuron, 59(4), 523-525. (2008)
- Burwell, R.D. & Agster, K.L. (2008) Anatomy of the Hippocampus and the Declarative Memory System. In H. Eichenbaum (Ed.), Memory Systems. Vol.  of Learning and Memory: A Comprehensive Reference, 4 vols.(J.Byrne Editor), pp. [47-66] Oxford: Elsevier. (2008)
- Furtak SC, Wei SM, Agster KL, Burwell RD. (2007) Functional neuroanatomy of the parahippocampal region in the rat: The perirhinal and postrhinal cortices.Hippocampus. 2007, 17(9):709-722. (2007)
- Theroux, S., Pereira, M., Casten, K.S., Burwell, R.D., Yeung, K.C., Sedivy, J.M., and Klysik, J. (2007). Raf kinase inhibitory protein knockout mice: Expression in the brain and olfaction deficit. Brain Research Bulletin. 71(6):559-67. (2007)
- Kerr KM, Agster KL, Furtak SC, Burwell RD. (2007) Functional neuroanatomy of the parahippocampal region: The lateral and medial entorhinal areas. Hippocampus. 2007, 17(9):709-722. (2007)
- Long, M. A., Jutras, M. J., Connors, B. W., & Burwell, R. D. (2005). Electrical synapses coordinate activity in the suprachiasmatic nucleus. Nat Neurosci, 8(1), 61-66. (2005)
- Bucci, D. J.,& Burwell, R. D. (2004). Deficits in attentional orienting following damage to the perirhinal or postrhinal cortices. Behav Neurosci, 118(5), 1117-1122 (2004)
- Burwell, R. D., Saddoris, M. P., Bucci, D. J.,& Wiig, K.J. (2004). Corticohippocampal contributions to spatial and contextual learning. J Neurosci,24:3826-36. (2004)
- Burwell, R. D., Bucci, D. J., Sanborn, M. R., & Jutras, M. J. (2004). Postrhinal and perirhinal contributions to remote memory for context. J Neurosci, 24(49), 11023-11028. (2004)
- Burwell, R. D., & Hafeman, D.M., (2003). Positional firing properties of postrhinal cortex neurons. Neurosci, 119(2), 577-588. (2003)
- Rapp, P. R., Deroche, P. S., Mao, Y., & Burwell, R. D. (2002). Neuron Number in the Parahippocampal Region is Preserved in Aged Rats with Spatial Learning Deficits. Cereb Cortex, 12(11), 1171-1179. (2002)
- Bucci, D.J., Saddoris, M.P., & Burwell, R.D. (2002). Contextual fear discrimination is impaired by damage to postrhinal or perirhinal cortex. Behav Neurosci, 116(3), 479-488. (2002)
- Burwell, R. D. (2001). The perirhinal and postrhinal cortices of the rat: Borders andcytoarchitecture. J Comp Neurol, 437(17-41). (2001)
- Bucci, D. J., Phillips, R. G., & Burwell, R. D. (2000). Contributions of postrhinal and perirhinal cortex to contextual information processing. Behav Neurosci, 114(5), 882-894. (2000)
- Burwell, R. D., Shapiro, M. S., O'Malley, M. T., & Eichenbaum, H. (1998). Positional firing properties of perirhinal cortex neurons. NeuroReport, 9, 3013-3018. (1998)
- Burwell, R. D., & Amaral, D. G. (1998b). Perirhinal and postrhinal cortices of the rat: Interconnectivity and connections with the entorhinal cortex. J Comp Neurol, 391(3),293-321. (1998)
- Burwell, R. D., & Amaral, D. G. (1998a). Cortical afferents of the perirhinal, postrhinal, and entorhinal cortices. J Comp Neurol, 398(2), 179-205. (1998)
- Wiig, K. A., & Burwell, R. D. (1998). Memory impairment on a delayed-non-matching- to-position task following lesions of the perirhinal cortex in the rat. Behav Neurosci, 112(4), 828-838. (1998)
- Gallagher, M., Burwell, R. D., & Burchinal, M. (1993). Severity of spatial learning impairment in aging: Development of a learning index for performance in the Morris water maze. Behav Neurosci, 107(4), 618-626. (1993)