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Azahara Oliva

Assistant Professor


Azahara Oliva earned her BA in Physics and her MSc in Biophysics from the Complutense University of Madrid. She later got her PhD in Neuroscience from the University of Szeged working under the supervision of Antal Berenyi. She completed her postdoctoral training in the lab of Steven Siegelbaum, at Columbia University, and Gyorgy Buzsaki at the Neuroscience Institute in NYU. She will join the NBB Department at Cornell as an Assistant Professor in July 2022.



  • Neurobiology and Behavior


The main goal of our research is to understand how the brain integrates motivation and cognition to guide behavior. In order to do that, the brain has to integrate external features related to the environment and internal information related to the state of the animal. This process requires brain-wide networks operating at a slow time scale to coordinate the fast and precise temporal dynamics of local processes in specific brain areas. A good model to investigate these computations are social behaviors. Social behaviors are a key aspect of many animal species, including rodents and humans. In species that live in groups, the ability to recognize a conspecific and remember previous interactions is an essential part of adaptive behavior. We focus on the hippocampus, where we found memory traces of other conspecifics that reactivate during SWRs. We investigate how hippocampal-subcortical interactions support social cognition in ecologically relevant conditions using different rodent species.


In our lab, we apply a combination of methods, including naturalistic behavioral tasks, in vivo electrophysiology, calcium imaging, closed-loop optogenetic manipulations and anatomical circuit mapping in order to unravel the general principles of the brain circuits underlying these processes.



  • Oliva A, Fernández-Ruiz A, Leroy F, Siegelbaum S. Hippocampal CA2 ripples reactivate and promote social memory. Nature, in press. 
  • Fernández-Ruiz A, Oliva A, Fermino de Oliveira E, Rocha-Almeida F, Tingley D, Buzsáki G. (2019) Long-duration Hippocampal Sharp Wave Ripples Improve Memory. Science 364(6445),1082-1086. 
  • Oliva A, Fernandez-Ruiz A, Oliveira EF, Buzsáki G. (2018) Origin of gamma frequency power during hippocampal sharp-wave ripples. Cell Reports 25,1693-1700 
  • Meira T, Leroy F, Buss EW, Oliva A, Park J, Siegelbaum SA. (2018). A hippocampal circuit linking dorsal CA2 to ventral CA1 critical for social memory dynamics. Nature Communications 9:4163 
  • Oliva A, Fernández-Ruiz A, Buzsáki G, Berényi A. (2016). Role of hippocampal CA2 region in triggering sharp-wave ripples. Neuron 91,1342-1355.