Bristol Neuroscience

Image of the brain

World-leading research into the fundamental science of the brain and nervous system lies at the heart of the Neuroscience research theme at Bristol. This is embodied by Bristol Neuroscience (BN), which represents a large, diverse neuroscience community with an excellent international reputation.

BN was launched in 2003 and pioneered thematic-based research at Bristol. It is now regarded as the exemplar ‘city neuroscience’ scheme; sister organisations have since developed at Cambridge, UCL and other UK universities.

Expertise within BN ranges from molecular and cellular neuroscience to clinical, patient-based research, with areas of interest including human cognition, synaptic plasticity, stress and dementia. BN is increasingly combining these strengths to undertake cross-disciplinary research that will have the greatest impact on scientific and clinical questions.

Expertise within Bristol Neuroscience ranges from molecular and cellular neuroscience to clinical, patient-based research, with areas of interest including human cognition, synaptic plasticity, stress and dementia.

Bristol is also the regional referral centre for clinical neurosciences. This represents tremendous resources in terms of clinical expertise, as well as access to a wide-ranging clinical population and one the largest brain banks in Europe, the South West Dementia Brain Bank (SWDBB).

This wide range of research interests and clinical expertise means that Bristol is well placed to achieve major breakthroughs in the coming years. BN enables theme members to work effectively together across disciplines, University departments and geographical sites. Chief among these are:

Other associate groups include Biological Sciences, Social and Community Medicine, Biochemistry, Philosophy and Engineering Mathematics.

The impact of neuroscience at Bristol is apparent in numerous areas:

  • Fundamental neuroscience research – eg the Bristol MRC Centre for Synaptic Plasticity and LINE are internationally recognised centres for studying plasticity in the nervous system, now seen as the key process underpinning how the brain works. Other research includes the mechanisms of pain, transduction of sound, the function of the cerebellum, and learning and memory.
  • Translation to the clinic – eg developing stem cell treatment for multiple sclerosis, research into dementia, therapies to prevent brain damage in babies, and pioneering neurosurgical techniques for movement disorders, depression and epilepsy.
  • Lifestyle and public health – eg work on the neuroscience of ageing, smoking, alcoholism and blood pressure, and on the neurological and psychological factors influencing food intake.
  • Neuroscience in society – BN is recognised at national and international levels for promoting wider dialogue through public engagement work.
  • Technological innovation – partnerships with other University departments such as Computer Science, Engineering and the Bristol Robotics Lab have led to the development of many real-life applications.
  • Industry – members of BN have close ties with industry as well as with a number of start-up companies.
  • Education – the Neuroscience and Education Network strives to counter classroom ‘neuromyths’ and allow education to benefit from real neuroscience research.