Karyn Frick

 (414) 229-6615
 Garland Hall 202B

Web Site:


Ph.D., M.A., The Johns Hopkins University

Research Interests:

The primary focus of our research is to understand how sex-steroid hormones, aging, and environmental factors affect hippocampal function and hippocampal-dependent memory. This work is motivated by the rapidly expanding elderly population worldwide, which will greatly increase the prevalence of age-related cognitive decline and dementia. Our ultimate goal is to help mitigate the impact of cognitive aging on the individual and society by facilitating the development of treatments to reduce or prevent age-related memory decline in humans. To this end, we utilize rodents as research subjects because rodent species offer an unparalleled opportunity to examine systems-level and cellular-level questions about memory formation in a mammalian system where the effects of aging, hormones, and environmental stimulation are similar to those in humans. Our studies combine a variety of approaches including behavioral, biochemical, pharmacological, genetic, and anatomical methods in order to gain a more detailed picture of the molecular mechanisms underlying the effects of aging, estrogens, progestagens, and environmental enrichment on the hippocampus and hippocampal memory formation.

Courses Taught:

Psych 101: Introduction to Psychology
Psych 611: The Aging Brain
Psych 611: Hormones and Behavior

Selected Publications

Fortress, A. M., & Frick, K. M. Hippocampal Wnt signaling: Memory regulation and hormone interactions. The Neuroscientist.
Tuscher, J. J., Szinte, J. S., Starrett, J. R., Krentzel, A. A., Fortress, A. M., Remage-Healey, L., & Frick, K. M. (2016, May). Inhibition of local estrogen synthesis in the hippocampus impairs memory consolidation in ovariectomized female mice. Hormones and Behavior, 83, 60-67.
Kim, J., Szinte, J. S., Boulware, M. I., & Frick, K. M. (2016, March). 17β-estradiol and agonism of G-protein-coupled estrogen receptor enhance hippocampal memory via different cell-signaling mechanisms. Journal of Neuroscience, 36(11), 3309-3321.
Tuscher, J. J., Luine, V. N., Frankfurt, M., & Frick, K. M. (2016, January (1st Quarter/Winter)). Estradiol-mediated spine changes in the dorsal hippocampus and medial prefrontal cortex of ovariectomized female mice depend on ERK and mTOR activation in the dorsal hippocampus. Journal of Neuroscience, 36(5), 1483-1489.
Frick, K. M. (2015, September). Molecular mechanisms underlying the memory-enhancing effects of estradiol. Hormones and Behavior, 74, 4-18.
Frick, K. M., Kim, J., Tuscher, J. J., & Fortress, A. M. (2015, September). Sex steroid hormones matter for learning and memory: Estrogenic regulation of hippocampal function in male and female rodents. Learning and Memory, 22(9), 472-493.
Tuscher, J. J., Fortress, A. M., Kim, J., & Frick, K. M. (2015, May). Regulation of object recognition and object placement by ovarian sex steroid hormones. Behavioural Brain Research, 285, 140-157.
Fortress, A. M., & Frick, K. M. (2014, April (2nd Quarter/Spring)). Epigenetic regulation of estrogen-dependent memory. Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology, 35(4), 530-549.
Fortress, A. M., Kim, J., Poole, R. L., Gould, T. J., & Frick, K. M. (2014). Estradiol-induced epigenetic changes and memory consolidation in middle-aged mice. Learning and Memory, 21(9), 457-467.
Twining, R. C., Tuscher, J. J., Doncheck, E. M., Frick, K. M., & Mueller, D. (2013, May). 17β-Estradiol is necessary for extinction of cocaine seeking in female rats. Learning & Memory, 20, 300-306.
Fortress, A. M., Fan, L., Orr, P. T., Zhao, Z., & Frick, K. M. (2013, March). Estradiol-induced object memory consolidation involves dorsal hippocampal mTOR activation. Learning and Memory, Learning and Memory, 20(3), 147-155.
Boulware, M. I., Heisler, J. D., & Frick, K. M. (2013). The memory-enhancing effects of hippocampal estrogen receptor activation involve metabotropic glutamate receptor signaling. Journal of Neuroscience, 33(38), 15184-15194.
Fortress, A. M., Schram, S. L., Tuscher, J. J., & Frick, K. M. (2013, July (3rd Quarter/Summer)). Canonical Wnt signaling is necessary for object recognition memory consolidation. Journal of Neuroscience, 33(31), 12619-12626.
Zhao, Z., Fan, L., Fortress, A. M., Boulware, M. I., & Frick, K. M. (2012, February). Hippocampal histone acetylation regulates object recognition and the estradiol-induced enhancement of object recognition. Journal of Neuroscience, 32(7), 2344-2351.
Fan, L., Zhao, Z., Orr, P. T., Chambers, C. H., Lewis, M. C., & Frick, K. M. (2010, March). Estradiol-induced object memory consolidation in middle-aged female mice requires dorsal hippocampal extracellular signal-regulated kinase and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase activation. Journal of Neuroscience, 30(12), 4390-4400.
Zhao, Z., Fan, L., & Frick, K. M. (2010, March). Epigenetic alterations regulate estradiol-induced enhancement of memory consolidation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 107(12), 5605-5610.
Fernandez, S. M., Lewis, M. C., Pechenino, A. S., Harburger, L. L., Orr, P. T., Gresack, J. E., Schafe, G. E., & Frick, K. M. (2008, August). Estradiol-induced enhancement of object memory consolidation involves hippocampal extracellular signal-regulated kinase activation and membrane-bound estrogen receptors. Journal of Neuroscience, 28(35), 8660-8667.