£2 million for research into the brain
Press release issued: 27 April 2011
A University of Bristol academic has been awarded over £2 million by the Medical Research Council (MRC) to look into the neural network basis of learning, memory and decision-making in health and disease.
Dr Jones, Senior Research Fellow in the University’s School of Physiology and Pharmacology, said: “Your brain is constantly doing sums, weighing-up past experience and the current situation in order to decide how best to behave. Unfortunately, patients with brain diseases like schizophrenia have trouble coping with these decisions that most of us take for granted. Electrical activity in different parts of their brains becomes subtly uncoordinated, making it difficult to see the wood for the trees.
“This project will use stimulation techniques designed to control the brain’s electrical signalling (very carefully – you wouldn’t notice if it was done to you) to see if we can re-coordinate brain activity at important times such as during decisions and therefore improve cognitive performance.”
In a second MRC-funded project led by co-applicants Professors Lawrence Wilkinson, Mike Owen and Mick O’Donovan of Cardiff University, Dr Jones’ lab will contribute to a study of schizophrenia risk genes. Understanding the genetic basis of the disease is central to designing new therapies.
Dr Jones said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to unite the internationally recognised strengths of Cardiff and Bristol’s geneticists and neuroscientists. This project evolved from a pilot funded by the Severnside Alliance for Translational Research (SARTRE), and we are delighted that the MRC continues to recognise what hotbed of translational neuroscience Bristol and Cardiff represent.”