Michael A Yassa

Professor and Chancellor's Fellow, Neurobiology and Behavior
School of Biological Sciences

Professor, Psychiatry & Human Behavior
School of Medicine

Professor, Neurology
School of Medicine

Director, Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory

Ph.D., University of California, Irvine, 2010, Neurobiology


B.A., Johns Hopkins University, 2002, Neuroscience


M.A., Johns Hopkins University, 2007, Psychological and Brain Sciences

Phone: (949) 824-1687
Email: myassa@uci.edu

University of California, Irvine
213 Qureshey Research Lab
Mail Code: 3800
Irvine, CA 92697

picture of Michael A Yassa

Research
Interests
learning, memory, aging, alzheimer's disease, neuroimaging, depression, anxiety, hippocampus
   
URL Lab Website
   
Academic
Distinctions
2006 - Graduate Research Fellowship Honorable Mention, National Science Foundation, Arlington, VA
2007 - 2010 - Graduate Research Fellowship, National Science Foundation, Arlington, VA
2010 - Fine Science Tools Travel Award in Neuroscience, UC Irvine
2010 - Roger W. Russell Scholar’s Award, UC Irvine
2010 - Carl Cotman Scholar’s Award, UC Irvine
2011 - Ossoff Scholars Award in Cognitive Disorders Research, Johns Hopkins University
2012 - Distinguished Lectureship in Neuroscience and Aging, NIH/NIA
2013 - Endowed Lectureship in Brain Aging, Director’s Research Circle, Center for Vital Longevity, UT Dallas
2014 - Eugene Williams Endowed Lectureship, St. Luke’s Hospital, Chesterfield, MO
2015 - Excellence in Teaching Award, National Society for Leadership and Success, UC Irvine
2015 - Departmental Service Award, Neurobiology and Behavior, UC Irvine
2016 - Robert Newcomb Interdisciplinary Team Science Award, 90+ Study, ICTS, UC Irvine
2017 - Frank Logan ‘Quad-L’ Early Career Award in Learning, Memory, and Cognition, U New Mexico
2017 - 2020 - Chancellor’s Fellow, University of California, Irvine
2018 - Young Investigator Award, Cognitive Neuroscience Society
2018 - Edwards Endowed Public Lecture, University of Washington
2016 - Robert Newcomb Interdisciplinary Team Science Award, Conte Center, ICTS, UC Irvine
   
Research
Abstract
We are interested in understanding how our brains can store and retrieve massive amounts of information and in using this knowledge to improve the human condition. We use cutting-edge human neuroscience tools to understand learning and memory in healthy and diseased brains. In particular, we are trying to uncover ways in which our memory abilities change throughout the lifespan from childhood to older adulthood. We are also trying to develop ways to diagnose and treat memory disorders present in patients with progressive diseases like Alzheimer’s disease or mood disorders like depression. More recently, we have begun to explore the impact of lifestyle factors like sleep, diet, and exercise on memory and cognition. Our toolkit is dynamic and diverse. It includes cross-species brain imaging as well electrical recordings from the brains of epilepsy patients before they undergo neurological surgery. We develop and refine cognitive assessment tools that specifically target learning and memory functions, with the goal of developing improved diagnostic and prognostic tests that we can use in community mental health settings. We also develop new tools for imaging and recording brain function to explore its architecture at very fine levels of detail. We collaborate vigorously and widely with investigators across the globe and provide support with open tool development and data banks to facilitate discovery science.
   
Publications Assaf, M., Rivkin, P., Kuzu, C., Calhoun, V., Kraut, M., Groth, K., Yassa, M.A., Hart, J., Pearlson, G. (2005) Abnormal object-recall and anterior cingulate over-activation correlate with formal thought disorder in schizophrenia. Biological Psychiatry 59: 452-459.

Bassett, S., Kusevic, I., Cristinzio, C., Yassa, M.A., Avramopoulos, D., Yousem, D., Fallin, M. (2005) Brain activation in offspring of AD cases corresponds to 10q linkage. Annals of Neurology 58: 142-146.

Reading, S., Yassa, M.A., Dziorny, A., Gourley, L., Yallapragada, V., Rosenblatt, A., Margolis, R., Aylward, E., Brandt, J., Mori, S., van Zijl, P., Bassett, S., Ross, C. (2005) Regional white matter change in pre-symptomatic Huntington’s disease: a diffusion tensor imaging study. Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging 140(1): 55-62.

Bassett, S., Yousem, D., Cristinzio, C., Kusevic, I., Yassa, M.A., Caffo, B., Zeger, S. (2006) Familial risk for Alzheimer’s disease alters fMRI activation patterns. Brain 129: 1229-1239.

Bazin, P.L., Cuzzocreo, J.L., Yassa, M.A., Gandler, W., McAuliffe, M.J., Bassett, S.S., Pham, D.L. (2007) Volumetric neuroimage analysis extensions for the MIPAV software package. Journal of Neuroscience Methods 165(1):111-21.

Yassa, M.A., Verduzco, G., Cristinzio C., Bassett, S. (2008) Altered fMRI activation during mental rotation in those at genetic risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Neurology 70(20):1898-904.

Yassa, M.A., Stark, C.E.L. (2008) Multiple Recognition-related signals in the medial temporal lobe. Hippocampus 18(9): 945-954.

Yassa, M.A., Stark, C.E.L. (2009) A quantitative evaluation of cross-participant alignment techniques for MRI studies of the medial temporal lobe. NeuroImage 44(2):319-327.

Cuzzocreo, J., Yassa, M.A., Verduzco, G., Honeycutt, N., Scott, D., Bassett, S. (2009) Effect of handedness on a verbal auditory memory fMRI task. Human Brain Mapping 30(4):1271-1278.

Yousem, D.M., Yassa, M.A., Cristinzio, C., Kusevic, I., Mohamed, M., Caffo, B.S., Bassett, S.S. (2009) Intelligence and medial temporal lobe function in older adults: A Functional MR Imaging-based investigation. American Journal of Neuroradiology 30(8):1477-81.

Bonekamp, D., Yassa, M.A., Munro, C. Geckle, R., Yousem, D., Barker, P.B., Schretlen, D.J., Brandt, J., Horska, (2009) A. Gray Matter in Amnestic Mild Cognitive Impairment: Voxel-based Morphometry. NeuroReport 21(4):259-63.

Gallagher, M., Bakker, A., Yassa, M.A., Stark, C.E.L. (2010) Bridging neurocognitive aging and disease modification: targeting functional mechanisms of impairment. Current Alzheimer’s Research 7, 197-199.

Yassa, M.A., Stark, S.M., Bakker, A., Albert, M.S., Gallagher, M., Stark, C.E.L. (2010) High-resolution functional MRI of hippocampal CA3 and dentate gyrus in patients with amnestic mild cognitive impairment. NeuroImage 51:1242-1252.

Yassa, M.A., Lacy, J.W., Stark, S.M., Albert, M.S., Gallagher, M., Stark, C.E.L. (2010-11) Pattern separation deficits associated with increased hippocampal CA3 and dentate gyrus activity in nondemented older adults. Hippocampus 21:968-979.

Stark, S.M., Yassa, M.A., Stark, C.E.L. (2010) Individual differences in spatial pattern separation performance associated with healthy aging in humans. Learning and Memory 17(6):284-8.

Yassa, M.A., Muftuler, L.T., Stark, C.E.L. (2010) Ultrahigh-resolution microstructural diffusion tensor imaging (msDTI) elucidates perforant path degradation in aged humans in vivo. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences U S A 107(28): 12687-91.

Lacy, J.W., Yassa, M.A., Stark, S.M., Stark, C.E.L. (2011) Distinct pattern separation related transfer functions in human CA3/dentate and CA1 revealed using high-resolution fMRI and variable mnemonic similarity. Learning and Memory 18(1):15-18.

Yassa, M.A., Mattfeld A.T., Stark, S.M., Stark, C.E.L. (2011) Age-related memory deficits linked to circuit-specific disruptions in the hippocampus. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences U S A 108(21):8873-8.

Yassa, M.A. (2011) Searching for novel biomarkers using high resolution diffusion tensor imaging. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease 26:297-305.

Yassa, M.A., Stark, C.E.L. (2011) Pattern separation and the hippocampus. Trends in Neuroscience 34(10):515-525.

Segal, S., Stark, S.M., Kattan, D., Stark, C.E., Yassa, M.A. (2012) Norepineprhine-mediated emotional arousal facilitates subsequent pattern separation. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory 97(4): 465-469.

Bakker, A., Krauss, G., Albert, M.A., Speck, C.L., Jones, L.R., Stark, C.E., Yassa, M.A., Bassett, S.S., Shelton, A.L., Gallagher, M. (2012) Reducing hippocampal hyperactivity improves cognition in mild cognitive impairment. Neuron 74, 467-474.

Yassa, M.A., Hazlett, R.L., Stark, C.E., Hoehn-Saric, R. (2012) Functional MRI of the amygdala and bed nucleus of the stria terminalis during conditions of uncertainty in generalized anxiety disorder. Journal of Psychiatric Research 46(8):1045-1052.

Stark, S.M., Yassa, M.A., Lacy, J.W., Stark, C.E. (2013) A task to assess behavioral pattern separation (BPS) in humans: data from healthy aging and mild cognitive impairment. Neuropsychologia 51(12):2442-9.

Kim, J., Yassa, M.A. (2013) Assessing recollection and familiarity of similar lures in a behavioral pattern separation task. Hippocampus 23(4): 287–294.

Leal, S., Yassa, M.A. (2013) Perturbations of Neural Circuitry in Aging, Mild Cognitive Impairment, and Alzheimer’s Disease. Ageing Research Reviews 12(3):823-31.

Ly, M., Murray, E., Yassa, M.A. (2013) Perceptual versus conceptual interference and pattern separation of verbal stimuli in young and older adults. Hippocampus 23:425-430.

Schwab, E., Cetingul, E., Afsari, B., Yassa, M.A., Vidal, R. (2013) Rotation invariant features for HARDI. Information Processing in Medical Imaging - Lecture Notes in Computer Science 7917: 705-717. [peer-reviewed full-length conference paper]

Schurgin, M.W., Reagh, Z.M., Yassa, M.A., Flombaum, J.I. (2013) Spatiotemporal continuity alters long-term memory representations. Visual Cognition 21:6, 715-718.

Reagh, Z.M., Roberts, J.M., Ly, M., DiProspero, N., Murray, E., Yassa, M.A. (2013) Spatial discrimination deficits as a function of mnemonic interference in aged adults with and without memory impairment. Hippocampus 24(3):303–314.

Yassa, M.A., Reagh, Z.M. (2013) Competitive Trace Theory (CTT): A role for the hippocampus in contextual interference during retrieval. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience 7:107.

Borota, D., Murray, E., Watabe, J., Keceli, G., Toscano, J. Yassa, M.A. (2014) Post-study caffeine administration enhances memory consolidation in humans. Nature Neuroscience 17:201–203.

Leal, S., Tighe, S., Yassa, M.A. (2014) Asymmetric effects of emotion on mnemonic interference. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory 111:41-48.

Reagh, Z.M., Yassa, M.A. (2014) Repetition strengthens target recognition but impairs similar lure discrimination: Evidence for trace competition. Learning and Memory 21: 342-346.

Leal, S.L., Tighe, S.K., Jones, C.J., Yassa, M.A. (2014) Pattern separation of emotional information in hippocampal dentate and CA3. Hippocampus 24(9): 1146-1155.

Roberts, J.M., Ly, M., Murray, E., Yassa, M.A. (2014) Temporal discrimination deficits as a function of lag interference in older adults. Hippocampus 24(10):1189-96.

Anderson, B.A., Leal, S.L., Hall, M.G., Yassa, M.A., Yantis, S. (2014) The attribution of value-based attentional priority in individuals with depressive symptoms. Cognitive, Affective, and Behavioral Neuroscience 14(4):1221-7.

Leal, S.L., Yassa, M.A. (2014) Effect of aging on mnemonic discrimination of emotional information. Behavioral Neuroscience 128(5):539-547.

Reagh, Z.M., Yassa, M.A. (2014) Object and spatial mnemonic interference differentially engage lateral and medial entorhinal cortex in humans. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 111(40):E4264-73.

Reagh, Z.M., Watabe, J., Ly, M., Murray, E., Yassa, M.A. (2014) Dissociated signals in human dentate gyrus and CA3 predict different facets of recognition memory. Journal of Neuroscience 34(40):13301-13.

Yushkevich, P.A., Amaral, R.S.C., Augustinack, J.C., Bender, A.R., Bernstein, J.D., Boccardi, M., Bocchetta, M., Burggren, A.C., Carr, V.A., Chakravarty, M.M., Chetelat, G., Daugherty, A., Davachi, L., Ding, S.L., Ekstrom, A., Geerlings, M.I., Hassan, A., Huang, YU., Iglesias, E., La Joie, R., Kerchner, G.A., LaRoque, K., Van Leemput, K., Libby, L.A., Malykhin, N., Mueller, S.G., Olsen, R.K., Palombo, D.J., Parekh, M., Pluta, J., Preston, A.R., Pruessner, J.C., Ranganath, C., Raz, N., Schlichting, M.L., Shoemaker, D., Singh, S., Stark, C.E.L., Suthana, N., Tompary A., Turowskiah, M.M., Wagner, A.D., Wang, L., Winterburn, J.L., Wisse, L.E.M., Yassa, M.A., Zeineh, M.M. for the Hippocampal Subfield Group (HSG) (2015). Quantitative comparison of 21 protocols for labeling hippocampal subfields and parahippocampal cortical subregions in in vivo MRI: initial steps towards a harmonized segmentation protocol. Neuroimage 111:526-41.

Chang, A., Murray, E. A., Yassa, M.A. (2015) Expertise and pattern separation: A potential mechanism for the “other race” effect. Behavioral Neuroscience 129(5):666-672.

Schwab, E., Yassa, M.A., Weiner, M., Vidal, R. (2015) HARDI feature selection, registration, and atlas building applied to Abeta pathology characterization. Medical Image Computing and Computer-Assisted Interventions (MICCAI). Mathematics and Visualization Series: Computational and Diffusion MRI 207-218.

Cunningham, C., Yassa, M.A., Egeth, H.E. (2015) Massive memory revisited: Limitations on storage capacity for object details in visual long-term memory. Learning and Memory. 22(11):563-6.

Leal, S.L., Yassa, M.A. (2015) Neurocognitive aging and the hippocampus across species. Trends in Neurosciences 38(12): 800–812.

Reagh, Z.M., Do, H., Noche, J., Murray, E.A., Leal, S.L., Chun, A., Yassa, M.A. (2016) Greater loss of object than spatial mnemonic discrimination in aged adults. Hippocampus 26(4):417-22.

Leal, S.L., Noche, J., Murray, E.A., Yassa, M.A. (2016) Positivity effect specific to older adults with subclinical memory impairment. Learning and Memory. 2016 Jul 15;23(8):415-21.

Leal, S.L., Noche, J.A., Murray, E.A., Yassa, M.A. (2016) Age-related individual variability in memory performance is associated with amygdala-hippocampal circuit function and emotional pattern separation. Neurobiology of Aging. 49:9-19.

Reagh, Z.M., Murray, E.A., Yassa, M.A. (2016) Repetition reveals ups and downs of hippocampal, thalamic, and neocortical engagement during mnemonic decisions. Hippocampus. 27(2):169-183.

Wisse, L.E.M., Daugherty A., Olsen, R.K., Berron, D., Carr, V., Stark, C.E.L., Amaral, R., Amunts, K., Augustinack,J.C., Bender, A.R., Bernstein, J.D., Boccardi,M., Bocchetta, M., Burggren, A., Chakravarty, M.M., Chupin, M., Ekstrom, A., de Flores, R., Insausti,R., Kanel, P., Kedo, O., Kennedy,K., Kerchner, G.A., LaRocque, K., Liu, X., Maass, A., Malykhin, M., Mueller, S., Ofen, N., Palombo, D.J., Parekh, M., Pluta, J.B., Pruessner, J., Raz, N., Rodrigue, K., Schoemaker, D., Shafer, A.T., Steve, T., Suthana, N., Wang, L., Winterburn, J.L., Yassa, M.A., Yushkevich, P., la Joie, R., for the Hippocampal Subfield Group (HSG) (2016) A harmonized segmentation protocol for hippocampal and parahippocampal subregions: why do we need one and what are the key goals? Hippocampus. 27(1)3-11.

Suwabe, K., Hyodo, K., Byun, K.H., Ochi, G., Yassa, M.A., Soya, H. (2017) Acute moderate exercise improves mnemonic discrimination in young adults. Hippocampus. 27(3):229-234.

Zheng, J., Anderson, K.L., Leal, S.L., Shestyuk, A., Gulsen, G., Mnatsakanyan, L., Vadera, S., Yassa, M.A., Hsu, F.P., Knight, R.T., Lin, J.J. (2017) Amygdala-hippocampal dynamics during salient information processing.  Nature Communications. 8:14413.

Snigdha, S., Yassa, M.A., Rivera C., Milgram, N.W., Cotman, C.W. Pattern separation and goal directed behavior in the aged canine. Learning and Memory. In press.

Leal, S.L., Noche, J.A., Murray, E.A., Yassa, M.A. (2017) Disruption of amygdala-entorhinal-hippocampal network in late-life depression. Hippocampus. 27(4):464-476

Suwabe, K., Hyodo, K., Byun, K.H., Ochi, G., Fukui, T., Shimizu, T., Kato, M., Yassa, M.A., Soya, H. (2017) Aerobic fitness associates with mnemonic discrimination as a mediator of physical activity effects: Evidence for memory flexibility in young adults. Scientific Reports. 7:5140.

Stark, S., Reagh, Z.M., Yassa, M.A.* Stark, C.E.* (2017) What’s in a Context? Cautions, limitations, and potential paths forward. Neuroscience Letters. In press. *Co-corresponding authors.

Kraguljac, N., Carle, M., Frölich, M., Tran, S., Yassa, M.A., White, D.M., Reddy, A., Lahti, A.C. (2017) Mnemonic Discrimination Deficits in First Episode Psychosis and a Ketamine Model Suggests Dentate Gyrus Pathology Linked to NMDA-Receptor Hypofunction. Biological Psychiatry. In press.

Reagh, Z.M., Yassa, M.A. (2017) Selective vulnerabilities and biomarkers in neurocognitive aging. F1000 reviews. In press.

Leal, S.L., Yassa, M.A. (2018) Incorporating new data and examining clinical applications of pattern separation. Nature Neuroscience

Reagh, Z.M., Noche, J.A., Tustison, N., Delisle, D., Murray, E.A., Yassa, M.A. (2018) Functional Imbalance of Anterolateral Entorhinal Cortex and Hippocampal Dentate/CA3 Underlies Age-Related Object Pattern Separation Deficits. Neuron 97, 1187-1198.

Sinha, N., Berg, C., Tustison, N., Shaw, A., Hill, D., Yassa, M.A., Gluck, M.A. (2018) APOE e4 Status in Healthy Older African Americans is Associated with Deficits in Pattern Separation and Hippocampal Hyperactivation. Neurobiology of Aging (in press).

Commentaries and Previews

Yassa, M.A. (2014) Ground zero in Alzheimer’s disease. Nature Neuroscience 17:146–147.

Yassa, M.A. (2018) Brain rhythms: Higher frequency theta oscillations make sense in moving humans. Current Biology 28, R70-72.

Book Chapters

Yassa, M.A. (2011) Searching for novel biomarkers using high resolution diffusion tensor imaging. In J.W. Ashford, A. Rosen, M. Adamson, O. Sabri, S. Black, G. Frisoni, C. Jack, M. Weiner (Eds.) Handbooks of Imaging the Alzheimer Brain: Volume 2. Advances in Alzheimer’s Disease. IOS Press, Amsterdam, The Netherlands: 547-554.

Ly, M., Ji, S., Yassa, M.A. (2014) Diffusion MRI Biomarkers of White Matter Damage in Traumatic Brain Injury. In S. Baltan, S.T. Carmichael, C. Matute, G. Xi, J. H. Zhang (Eds.) White Matter Injury in Stroke and CNS Diseases. Springer, New York: 91-106.

Leal, S.L., Yassa, M.A. (2015) The aging hippocampus: a cross species perspective. In Bruno, D. (Ed.) Preservation of Memory. Psychology Press (Taylor and Francis).

Leal, S.L., Yassa, MA. (2018) Normal cognitive and brain aging. In Alosco, M.L. and Stern, R. (Eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Adult Cognitive Disorders. Forthcoming.
   
Grants NIA R01 AG034613 - High-resolution structural and functional brain imaging of the medial temporal lobe in neurocognitive aging
   
NIMH R01 MH102392 - Neural mechanisms of emotional memory modulation in major depressive disorder
   
NIH/NIA R21 AG049220 - Selective Age-Related Vulnerability In Human Perirhinal And Lateral Entorhinal Cortices
   
NIH/NIA U01 AG051412 - Biomarkers for Alzheimer’s Disease in Adults with Down Syndrome
   
NIA P50 AG16573 (UCI ADRC) High-Resolution Neuroimaging Biomarkers of Preclinical Alzheimer’s Disease
   
NIA R01AG053555 - Neuroimaging Biomarkers for Cognitive Decline in Elderly with Amyloid Pathology
   
NIMH P50MH096889 (Silvio O. Conte Center) Fragmented Early Life Environmental And Emotional/Cognitive Vulnerabilities | Imaging Core
   
NINDS R13NS106922 - International Conference on Learning and Memory (#LEARNMEM2018)
   
Professional
Societies
Society for Neuroscience
Cognitive Neuroscience Society
Memory Disorders Research Society
Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience
American Psychological Association
Faculty of 1000
   
Graduate Programs Neurobiology and Behavior

Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program

Mathematical and Computational Biology

   
Research Centers Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory
   
Alzheimer's Disease Research Center
   
Conte Center on Adolescent Vulnerabilities
   
Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Center
   
   
Link to this profile http://www.faculty.uci.edu/profile.cfm?faculty_id=6078
   
Last updated 06/05/2018