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Professor Zafar Bashir

Professor Zafar Bashir

Professor Zafar Bashir
B.Sc.(N'cle), Ph.D.(Glas.)

Professor of Cellular Neuroscience

Area of research

Recognition memory

Office G.31A
Biomedical Sciences Building,
University Walk, Bristol BS8 1TD
(See a map)

+44 (0) 117 331 1957


Neurones of the brain communicate with one another at specialised junctions, called synapses, through the process of synaptic transmission. Having hundreds or thousands of synapses on individual neurones provides for immense complexity in neuronal signalling. However, a further degree of complexity comes about because the communication between neurones is extremely plastic. This means that the strength of synaptic transmission is not fixed but can be increased or decreased (a process called synaptic plasticity) and this property of synaptic plasticity is one of the crucial processes that enables the brain to learn and to retain memories. Therefore, understanding how synaptic transmission occurs and how it can be regulated and modified is essential if we are to understand the workings of the central nervous system and to understand the processes of learning and memory.

Glutamate is the main transmitter at synapses in the brain and glutamate performs its functions by acting on a variety of different receptors; activation of each of these produces different effects at the synapse. The function of glutamate is also modified by other transmitters, such as acetylcholine. Teasing apart the different roles that these different receptors play and how these different receptors and transmitters interact with one another to produce synaptic plasticity is one of my main interests.

Current Projects

NMDA receptor subunit composition

One of the current projects in the lab is investigating how NMDA receptors differ in their subunit composition between different pathways (perforant path and Schaffer collaterals) that terminate onto CA1 pyramidal neurones in the hippocampus. We are interested in understanding whether differences in NMDA receptors confer different plastic properties on the synapses at the two input pathways to CA1 neurones

Mechanisms of plasticity and memory

To investigate synaptic transmission and plasticity we utilise a variety of in vitro techniques (molecular, electrophysiology, pharmacology) in the hippocampus, perirhinal and prefrontal cortex, depending on the precise questions. In collaboration with other groups we can then use this knowledge to investigate how mechanisms of plasticity are involved in learning and memory; see for an example of how this multi-disciplinary approach works.

Activities / Findings

  • long term depression underlies recognition memory Read more >
  • MAPK and TyrK involvement in mGluR-LTD
  • mGluR-LTD and experience dependent plasticity
  • different subtypes of NMDA receptors for different mechanisms of synaptic plasticity


Coordinate Neuroscience BSc.
Teach neuroscience to level 1,2 and 3 students.


  • Alzheimers disease
  • learning and memory


  • Alzheimers disease
  • learning disabilities

Processes and functions

  • Learning and memory
  • cognitive processing
  • ageing


  • Electrophysiology
  • calcium imaging
  • cell culture
  • patch clamp


Selected publications

Read more >

Recent publications

View complete publications list in the University of Bristol publications system

Networks & contacts

  • Malcolm Brown
  • Clea Warburton
  • James Uney
  • Graham Collingridge
  • Jeremy Henley
  • Elek Molnar
  • David Jane

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