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David Forrest Clayton


  • Associate Fellow
  • Child & Brain Development


Research Gate


David Clayton’s research focuses on how brain and genome interact to govern how experiences are filtered, stored and remembered.

Using the songbird as an experimental model, Clayton discovered that the formation of social memories is linked to the transcription of specific genes in songbird brain, in structures akin to auditory and association cortex. Further research led to the sequencing of the songbird genome and the identification of molecular networks involved in integrating social and developmental influences on perception and memory. Clayton’s approach is multidisciplinary and collaborative, as he seeks to understand the neurobiological mechanisms that promote or constrain successful adaptations to life experience.


  • Honorary Doctorate from the University of Antwerp, 2013
  • Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2005
  • Scientific Advisory Board, National Parkinson Foundation, 1999
  • University Scholar, University of Illinois, 1996–1999
  • Whitehall Foundation Research Award, 1988–1992

Relevant Publications

  • Clayton, D. F., & George, J. M. (1998). The synucleins: a family of proteins involved in synaptic function, plasticity, neurodegeneration and disease. Trends in neurosciences, 21(6), 249-254.
  • George, J.M. et al. "Characterization of a novel protein regulated during the critical period for song learning in the zebra finch." Neuron 15, no. 2 (August 1995): 361–72.

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