Neurones are connected together in complex networks which allow for the storage and retrieval of information. However under certain conditions, these networks are compromised, resulting in deficits in memory and cognitive processing. For example, in Alzheimer’s disease there is significant neuronal loss which results in profound changes to the remaining neuronal network. In contrast in schizophrenia, another condition which results in significant cognitive impairment, there are more subtle alterations in synaptic connectivity between, and within, different brain areas.
The cellular and synaptic mechanisms underlying these changes to neuronal circuitry are not well understood. The goal of our research is to elucidate the relative roles of synaptic dynamics and intrinsic firing properties in neuronal networks and how these are disturbed in disease states. We use electrophysiological techniques (whole-cell and extracellular brain slice recordings) to investigate the intrinsic and synaptic neurophysiological properties of models of disease.
Prefrontal and hippocampal neurophysiology in models of schizophrenia
Subtle changes in neurodevelopment, which result in biochemical, structural, neurophysiological and ultimately behavioural deficits, contribute to the symptoms of schizophrenia. In particular, cortical and limbic regions such as the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus appear to be affected. In collaboration with Pfizer, we are using a range of neurodevelopmental models of schizophrenia to investigate the neurophysiological basis of this condition, using brain slices prepared from the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus.
The neurophysiology of ageing
The normal ageing process results in changes to cognitive function which contributes to the reduced quality of life often experienced by the elderly. However, the neurophysiological bases of these impairments are not understood. In collaboration with Nina Balthasar, Neil Marrion, Richard Apps and Matt Jones, we are studying the effects of ageing on ion channel function and neuroexcitability.
1st Year Neuroscience PBL
2nd and 3rd Year lectures in neuroanantomy and neurological disorders
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