A two photon imaging platform for characterising memory circuit dynamics and response to therapeutic strategies in neurodegenerative disease

Lead Research Organisation: Imperial College London
Department Name: Dept of Bioengineering


Neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's Disease are a growing problem for society. While there are a number of disease models, based on amyloid and tau protein pathologies, and even several promising treatment approaches, there have been difficulties in transferring apparent success in animal models into successful human clinical trials. One key issue is that the effect of neurodegenerative disease on memory circuit dynamics during a spatial memory task is not well understood, nor is the effect of therapeutic strategies on information flow in hippocampal-cortical circuits. In this project we will develop a platform for characterising such information flow, combining a two photon microscope system for deep tissue imaging with a platform for mouse behaviour. A number of technological challenges will have to be overcome in the project, ranging from synchronizing multimodal measurements (optical, electrophysiological, behavioural) together, to the development of a robust signal processing and data analysis pipeline.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/R512540/1 01/10/2017 31/03/2022
1975558 Studentship EP/R512540/1 02/10/2017 31/07/2022 Seigfred Valderama Prado
Description Commission on Higher Education (CHED) K-12 Transition Program's Partial Support Grant for Graduate Studies Abroad
Amount Php2,880,000 (PHP)
Funding ID PS-17-105 
Organisation Commission on Higher Education 
Sector Public
Country Philippines
Start 12/2017 
End 12/2020
Description Imperial Festival 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact As a cohort we developed and presented four activities for a CDT Neurotechnology stand at the Imperial Festival 2018. The annual Imperial festival aims to share with a wide audience the research being carried out at the college and get the public excited by science. The activities, based in the "Robot Zone" of the festival, aimed to explain some of the problems and goals of modern Neurotechnology. In the "Mind Games" section, visitors could control games with signals from their central and peripheral nervous systems. The first game used a myoband sensor worn on the arm to detect electrical activity of the muscles. These signals were used to control a spacecraft in an immersive space-invaders arcade game. In Neurotechnology such biosignals are commonly used to control bionic prosthetic limbs. Here the visitors could see how hard it is both for engineers to come up with an intuitive control strategy, and for patients to control something using this technique. The second game challenged visitors to break a plastic spoon with the power of their mind! We measured brain waves with a simple EEG headset and applied an algorithm to measure the attention level of the participant. If the visitor concentrated hard enough they were able to drive a motor, pulling the spoon by a string until it eventually broke. This activity demonstrated another common neurotechnology application: the brain-machine interface (BMI), which aims to allow communication between the brain and something that is "driven" by the brain (in this case, the motor). Visitors could measure how 'strong' their brains were and whether they could break the spoon.
The second section, "Mind Melodies", focussed on exploring the sense of hearing. The first exhibit 'SpiKiss' allowed visitors to create music with their mind, using an EEG headset. Different frequencies of recorded brain waves were used to control pitch and tempo of the sounds created; melodies created by relaxed brains were slower and calmer, while those with energetic thoughts were vigorous and fast. The final exhibit showed visitors what brains actually sound like! Before the Festival we conducted an experiment in which one student was presented with series of tones, whilst his brain activity was measured via electrodes. Later the signal obtained in response to each tone was processed and could be played back to produce a sound. We then mapped the 'sounds of the brain' to keys of a keyboard and allowed visitors to see for themselves what the brain sounds like and compare it to the sounds that evoked the response.

Understanding and interpreting brain activity is one of the greatest problems in neurotechnology. In these exhibits, visitors could scratch the surface of this problem by looking for similarities between the stimulus and the brain's response. The exhibits generated questions and discussions from a wide range of visitors about brain activity, BMIs, neuroscience and about the specific work that the students at the CDT for Neurotechnology are engaged in, and the impact of these activities on patients, device development etc. The stands were very popular, attracting over 500 visitors over two days, of varying ages and education level. Positive verbal feedback from visitors confirmed their enjoyment of the activities and that the exhibit had raised visitors' awareness of neurotechnology research, its importance and applications.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.imperial.ac.uk/festival/whats-on/events-programme/activities/robot-zone-2.php