Frick, Karyn

Milwaukee Institute for Drug Discovery (MIDD)

Distinguished Professor of Psychology


Neuroendocrinology of Memory Lab

Research Area

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.

Selected Publications

1. Frick, K. M., ed. (2020, January (1st Quarter/Winter)). Estrogens and Memory: Basic Research and Clinical Implications. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
2. Kim, J., Schalk, J. C., Koss, W. A., Gremminger, R. L., Taxier, L. R., Gross, K. S., & Frick, K. M. (2019, November). Dorsal hippocampal actin polymerization is necessary for activation of G-protein-coupled estrogen receptor (GPER) to increase CA1 dendritic spine density and enhance memory consolidation. The Journal of Neuroscience39(48), 9598-9610.
3. Taxier, L. R., Philippi, S. M., Fortress, A. M., & Frick, K. M. (2019, August). Dickkopf-1 blocks 17β-estradiol-enhanced object memory consolidation in ovariectomized female mice. Hormones and Behavior114, 104545.
4. Koss, W. A., & Frick, K. M. (2019, May). Activation of androgen receptors protects intact male mice from memory impairments caused by aromatase inhibition. Hormones and Behavior111, 96-104.
5.Tuscher, J. J., Taxier, L. R., Fortress, A. M., & Frick, K. M. (2018, December). Chemogenetic inactivation of the dorsal hippocampus and medial prefrontal cortex, individually and concurrently, impairs object recognition and spatial memory consolidation in female mice. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory156, 103-116.
6. Hanson, A. M., Sampathi Perera, K. L., Kim, J., Pandey, R. K., Sweeney, N. K., Lu, X., Imhoff, A., Mackinnon, A. C., Frick, K. M., Donaldson, W. A., & Sem, D. S. (2018, June). A-C estrogens as potent and selective estrogen receptor-beta agonists (SERBAs) to enhance memory consolidation under low-estrogen conditions. Journal of Medicinal Chemistry61(11), 4720-4738.
8. Koss, W. A., Haertel, J. M., Philippi, S. M., & Frick, K. M. (2018, October (4th Quarter/Autumn)). Sex differences in the rapid cell signaling mechanisms underlying the memory-enhancing effects of 17β-estradiol. eNeuro5(5).
9. Kim, J., & Frick, K. M. (2017, November). Distinct effects of estrogen receptor antagonism on object recognition and spatial memory consolidation in ovariectomized mice. Psychoneuroendocrinology85, 110-114.
10. Frick, K. M., Tuscher, J. J., Koss, W. A., Kim, J., & Taxier, L. R. (2017, July (3rd Quarter/Summer)). Estrogenic regulation of memory consolidation: A look beyond the hippocampus, ovaries, and females. Saldanha, C., & Robinson, T. (Eds.). Physiology and Behavior187, 57-66.
11. Koss, W. A., & Frick, K. M. (2016, November). Sex differences in hippocampal function. Journal of Neuroscience Research95(1-2), 539-562 (Invited review for Special issue entitled, “An Issue Whose Time Has Come: Sex/Gender Influences on Nervous System Function”).
12. 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 Behavior83, 60-67.
13. 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 Neuroscience36(11), 3309-3321.
14. 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 Neuroscience36(5), 1483-1489. Frick, K. M. (2015, September).
15. Frick, K. M. "Molecular mechanisms underlying the memory-enhancing effects of estradiol. Hormones and Behavior74, 4-18 (Invited review for Special issue entitled, “Estradiol and Cognition” for the 2015 Society for Neuroscience meeting).
16. 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 Memory22(9), 472-493 (Invited review for Special issue for the Molecular and Cellular Cognition Society meeting at the 2015 Society for Neuroscience meeting).
17. Fortress, A. M., Heisler, J. D., & Frick, K. M. (2015, May). The mTOR and canonical Wnt signaling pathways mediate the mnemonic effects of progesterone in the dorsal hippocampus. Hippocampus25(5), 616-629.
16. 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 Research285, 140-157 (Invited review for Special issue entitled, “Object Recognition Memory in Rats and Mice”).
18. Fortress, A. M., & Frick, K. M. (2014, April (2nd Quarter/Spring)). Epigenetic regulation of estrogen-dependent memory. Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology35(4), 530-549 (Invited review paper).