Stephen Maren is a behavioral neuroscientist who specializes in the neurobiology of learning and memory.
He has made several seminal contributions to uncovering the neurobiological basis of emotional learning and memory, particularly memory for fearful experiences.
Each of these contributions has driven new empirical and theoretical work in the field and has been foundational to understanding the basic synaptic and circuit mechanisms underlying both normal and pathological fear memories.
His primary research interests are neural systems for emotion, learning, and memory; contextual regulation of memory encoding and retrieval; and fear, anxiety, and PTSD.
Research in his Emotion and Memory Systems Laboratory seeks to understand the brain circuits and cellular mechanisms underlying the encoding, storage, retrieval, and extinction of aversive memories, and how dysfunction in these circuits and processes contributes to anxiety disorders. We focus on the neurobiology of fear conditioning and extinction in rats and mice.
The hippocampus, amygdala, and prefrontal cortex, a triad of interconnected brain areas with essential roles in memory and emotion, are critical for these processes. The lab uses both behavioral and systems neuroscience methods to understand the brain mechanisms of fear and anxiety. These approaches include reversible brain lesions, intracranial pharmacology, electrophysiology, and immunohistochemistry. Maren is a recipient of the American Psychological Association Distinguished Scientific Award for an Early Career Contribution to Psychology (2001) and the D. O. Distinguished Scientific Contributions Award (2017). He is also a Fellow of the American Psychological Association and Association for Psychological Science, Past-President of the Pavlovian Society, and is currently the Editor-in-Chief of Behavioural Brain Research.
He has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health since 1995 and is a recipient of the 2015 McKnight Memory and Cognitive Disorders award.
He received his doctorate in neurobiology from the University of Southern California in 1993 and joined the Texas A&M faculty in 2012.