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Biography

Biography

I am currently a Lecturer within the Systems Neuroscience Research Group of the Faculty of Life Sciences. I was originally appointed Lecturer at UMIST in late 2002 and then transferred to FLS with the merger of the two Universities. I obtained my PhD in Biology from The Open University in 1991 where I studied the neural correlates of memory formation in the chick with Prof Steven PR Rose. I then took several post-doctoral appointments, firstly in the Brain Research Institute at UCLA (USA), then the Clinique Neurologique at the University of Rennes II (France), the Department of Psychology at Trinity College Dublin (Ireland) and finally the Department of Psychology at the University of Newcastle (UK) before taking up my first permanent academic position at Manchester, where I am also one of the postgraduate tutors for Neuroscience students in FLS.

Research interests

Mammalian Hippocampal Formation

The hippocampus and other medial temporal lobe regions of the human brain are crucial for both the acquisition of new memories and the formation of spatial maps of the environment. It has long been assumed that these related functions depend upon information passed to the hippocampus from the cortex flowing through the processing chain within the hippocampal 'trisynaptic loop'. This scenario assumes that information is processed from one hippocampal subfield to the next in a purely sequential fashion, via feed-forward excitatory connections, from hippocampal input to output. Recent studies, however, highlight the importance of direct cortical inputs to hippocampal subfields as being important in cognition. Thus, the anatomy of the hippocampus operates in a parallel rather than purely sequential manner and we need to take this into account in our investigation of hippocampal function.

Current experiments in the lab are centred on investigating the flow of information within medial temporal lobe structures in both the normal brain and that of transgenic mice that model Alzheimer's Disease pathology. Techniques currently in use include (a) recording evoked neural activity in rodents using single or multiple (high-density) glass and metal electrodes and (b) measurements of behavioural learning (e.g., T-maze and novel object recognition). The lab operates within the Faculty of Life Sciences and we are part of the Systems Neuroscience Research Group

Experimental approaches currently include:

1. Analyzing neural recordings to determine what the physiology and anatomy of the hippocampal formation can reveal about the nature of the processing that it carries out.

2. Investigating the contribution of both intrinsic connections and cortical inputs to the hippocampal processing of information (collaborator Dr Stefano Panzeri)

3. Determining how these hippocampal regions and their related neural circuitry are involved in arousal (collaborator Dr Hugh Piggins).

4. Investigating the relationship between the hippocampal formation and the amygdala, with particular reference to normal and pathological states such as epilepsy (collaborator Dr Jon Turner)

5. Electrophysiological and behavioural approaches to investigate how hippocampal circuits become damaged in cognitively impaired animals by using an transgenic model of Alzheimer’s Disease (collaborator Dr Stuart Allan).

6. Determining the contribution of somatosensory information from the rat whisker system to navigation and the hippocampal representation of space (collaborator Dr Rasmus Petersen)

These projects are funded by the BBSRC and The Royal Society

Key words: subiculum, hippocampus, entorhinal cortex, presubiculum, Alzheimer's Disease, whisker, barrel cortex, amygdala, orexin

Teaching

Cognitive neuroscience with particular emphasis on the neurobiology of learning and memory.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy, Neurophysiological correlates of learning and memory in two regions of chick forebrain., The Open University

1 Oct 19871 Jul 1991

Award Date: 1 Jul 1991

Areas of expertise

  • QP Physiology
  • Electrophysiology
  • hippocampus
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Schizophrenia
  • Mouse
  • Rat

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Dementia@Manchester
  • Autism@Manchester
  • Manchester Institute for Collaborative Research on Ageing

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