SSA: Evaluation of thalamo-hippocampal-frontal networks in recognition memory

Lead Research Organisation: University of Bristol
Department Name: Physiology and Pharmacology


Recognition memory lets us know whether something that we encounter in our lives, is new or
familiar. The formation of such memory is very rapid and is usually taken for granted but it is essential
for all our normal daily activities. Our research has shown that successful recognition memory
depends on interactions between the hippocampus and cortex, but also involve additional
interactions with the thalamus, specifically the nucleus reuniens which when damaged, as can happen
during a stroke, results in poor memory function. However how memory information is processed
within this hippocampo-thalamic-cortical circuit is not known.
The aim of this project is to examine the role of the neural connections between the hippocampus,
nucleus reuniens and prefrontal cortex in recognition memory formation. To address our specific
hypotheses this multidisciplinary project will use state-of-the-art optogenetic and pharmacogenetic
techniques. Optogenetic technology enables us to bidirectionally manipulate neural activity over
short timescales, using the local administration of light stimuli to neurons that express light sensitive
membrane channels, while pharmacogenetic technologies allow us to manipulate neural activity over
longer timescales. The effects of these specific neural manipulations will be tested using a
combination of behavioural techniques to assess effects of memory, and neuroimaging and
neuroanatomy to analyse neural circuitry and in vitro electophysiological techniques to identify
cellular mechanisms.
Warburton, Aggleton and Bashir have established track records investigating the neural basis of
learning and memory. New students will join a multidisciplinary research team comprising PhD
students, postdoctoral researchers and technical staff who apply both in vivo and in vitro techniques
to uncovering the neural basis of learning and memory hence students will gain valuable training in
multidisciplinary approaches to understanding memory processes.
The insights from this research will ultimately help in understanding memory loss that occurs during
aging, in dementia and following a stroke.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
BB/M009122/1 01/10/2015 30/09/2023
1946397 Studentship BB/M009122/1 18/09/2017 30/09/2021 Stephanie Tran