Senior researchers
Miriam Nokia
Markku Penttonen

Post-doctoral Fellows
Arto Lipponen
Tiina Pirttimäki (UEF, Kuopio)
Tomi Waselius

Research assistants
Lauri Kantola
Joonas Sahramäki
Johanna Vaarala

Anu Karvonen (PhD, 2017)
Irina Gureviciene (post-doc, 2016)
Sanna Lensu (post-doc, 2017-2018)
Jin Nanxiang (post-doc, 2018)

Learning and neural plasticity: From single cells to behavior

Research goal

We use both animal models and human volunteers to study how memories are formed and stored in the brain. We concentrate on the role of the hippocampus as an orchestrator of relational learning in the mammalian brain. More specifically, we study changes in the activity of single neurons and groups of thousands of neurons, and how these relate to adaptation of behavior. We are also interested in the connection between bodily rhythms like respiration and heartbeat and electrophysiological oscillations of the brain, and how this connection then regulates learning. In our research we make use of closed-loop setups where we monitor behavioral, bodily and brain state in real-time and use the information to control experimental manipulations.   


Learning and memory, hippocampus, adult neurogenesis, neuronal oscillations, bodily rhythms, synchrony


Selected publications

NEW! Waselius T, Wikgren J, Penttonen M, Nokia MS (in press) Breathe out and learn: expiration-contingent stimulus presentation facilitates associative learning in trace eyeblink conditioning. Psychophysiology.

Waselius T, Wikgren J, Halkola H, Penttonen M, Nokia MS. 2018. Learning by heart: cardiac cycle reveals an effective time window for learning. Journal of Neurophysiology, 120(2):830-838. doi: 10.1152/jn.00128.2018.

Nokia MS, Gureviciene I, Waselius T, Tanila H, Penttonen M. 2017. Hippocampal electrical stimulation disrupts learning when targeted at dentate spikes. Journal of Physiology. 595(14):4961-4971.  doi: 10.1113/JP274023.

Nokia MS, Wikgren J. 2014 Effects of hippocampal state-contingent trial presentation on hippocampus-dependent nonspatial classical conditioning and extinction. The Journal of Neuroscience, 34(17):6003-6010.

Penttonen M, Kamondi A, Sik A, Acsády L, Buzsáki G. 1997 Feed-forward and feed-back activation of the dentate gyrus in vivo during dentate spikes and sharp wave bursts. Hippocampus, 7:437-450. 


Local collaborators

Piia Astikainen, University of Jyväskylä, Finland 
Heikki Kainulainen, University of Jyväskylä, Finland – AFIS
Tiina Parviainen, University of Jyväskylä, Finland
Satu Pekkala, University of Jyväskylä, Finland
Jan Wikgren, University of Jyväskylä, Finland

National collaborators

Olli Gröhn, University of Eastern Finland, Finland
Satu Palva, University of Helsinki, Finland
Matias Palva, University of Helsinki, Finland
Heikki Tanila, University of Eastern Finland, Finland

International collaborators

Francesco Battaglia, Radboud University, Nijmegen, Netherlands
Jozsef Csicsvari, IST Austria, Austria



PI Markku Penttonen, "Dentate gyrus - the gateway to memory?", Research project, Academy of Finland, 2018-2022

PI Miriam Nokia, "Hippocampal representation of temporal information", Research project, Academy of Finland, 2015-2019

PI Miriam Nokia, ”Hippocampal oscillations and associative learning”, Academy Research Fellow, Academy of Finland, 2014-2019


Physiological recordings in animals
  • in vivo acute and chronic electrophysiology: single units and local field potentials
  • ECG, EMG, breathing 
Neuronal perturbation
  • electrical stimulation
  • optogenetics
  • pharmacology
Rodent behavioral testing
  • classical conditioning
  • maze tasks
  • fixed interval learning
  • BrdU, doublecortin and Ki67

Human psychophysiology and electrophysiology