Organization profile

The human brain contains more than 80 billion nerve cells. This complexity endows us with extraordinary computational abilities – sensory, cognitive and motor – that are far more adaptable than those of the most powerful man-made computer. It also means that diseases of the brain can have a profound impact upon us.

To understand the workings of the human brain – and to translate these insights into new treatments for brain disorders – is one of the most ambitious and exciting challenges of twenty-first century science.

The Division of Neuroscience explores these questions by drawing on basic neuroscience through to clinical neuroscience. We exploit a wide range of modern techniques and a range of model systems to both discover and translate new understanding of brain function.

Our research

Biological rhythms

Circadian rhythms pervade all aspects of our physiology and behaviour, from the timing of our sleep-wake cycle and feeding habits to organising metabolic processes, neuroendocrine signalling, and cognition.

This daily timing is orchestrated by a master circadian clock within the brain which coordinates circadian signals across a multitude of clocks in the retina, brain, and body.

Our researchers are using vertebrate and invertebrate models combined with state-of-the-art methods in electrophysiology, imaging, and computational modelling to figure out the mechanisms that operate to provide us with this daily sense of time.

Brain disorders

Despite major advances in medicine over the last few decades conditions that affect the brain (neurological disorders) remain a major unmet medical need.

With over 10 million people in the UK affected by neurological disorders our researchers are working hard to understand more about conditions such as brain tumours, dementia, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease and stroke and to discover new treatments.

Sensory and motor systems

Fundamental functions of the brain are to perceive the world (including our own bodies) and to act on the world. To this end, much of the brain is taken up by sensory systems, which include vision, touch and taste; and motor systems, which control the muscles.

Our researchers are investigating the mechanisms of sensory and motor function using cutting edge approaches using electrophysiology, imaging and computational modelling.

The aim is primarily to seek fundamental insight into how the sensory and motor systems operate but also to translate such insights into treatments for conditions including blindness and epilepsy. 

Neuroinflammation

Our brains are influenced by immune and inflammatory responses, both occurring in peripheral tissues, and local inflammation originating in the brain itself. Inflammation has a profound effect on brain function, and the ability of the tissue to recover from disease and injury.

Our researchers are working to understand how inflammation influences brain function and how inflammatory processes can be targeted in neurological and neurodegenerative disease.

Our research spans basic discovery science through to translational research and clinical trials.

Head of Division

Professor Richard Baines

Our researchers

View a list of all researchers within the Division


Banner image credit: Nina Milosavljevic lab

Network

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