Mammalian Hippocampal Formation

The hippocampus and other medial temporal lobe regions of the human brain are crucial for both the acquisition of new memories and the formation of spatial maps of the environment. It has long been assumed that these related functions depend upon information passed to the hippocampus from the cortex flowing through the processing chain within the hippocampal 'trisynaptic loop'. This scenario assumes that information is processed from one hippocampal subfield to the next in a purely sequential fashion, via feed-forward excitatory connections, from hippocampal input to output. Recent studies, however, highlight the importance of direct cortical inputs to hippocampal subfields as being important in cognition. Thus, the anatomy of the hippocampus operates in a parallel rather than purely sequential manner and we need to take this into account in our investigation of hippocampal function.

Current experiments in the lab are centred on investigating the flow of information within medial temporal lobe structures in both the normal brain and that of transgenic mice that model Alzheimer's Disease and other pathologies. Techniques currently in use include (a) recording evoked neural activity in rodents using multiple-electrode silicon arrays and (b) measurements of behavioural learning (e.g., for episodic-like memory). The lab operates within the Faculty of Life Sciences and we are part of the Systems Neuroscience Research Group.

PhD Projects