Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

We host a number of internationally recognised neuroscience groups, with expertise in a wide range of experimental and computational methods.

Two cells coupled together in appearance of a lightening flash against a dark background © Julian Bartram
Biocytin labeling of two synaptically coupled pyramidal cells in medial entorhinal cortex

Understanding brain function and disease

Our neuroscience theme combines three strands of research which simultaneously study the brain at a cellular level, its higher-level neural processing, and the possibilities for translating basic science into treatments for disease

The brain is arguably the most complex system in the human body, so a multi-tiered approach to understanding it is crucial, and our research considers brain function at all stages, from embryonic neuronal development to the mechanisms responsible for diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Our cellular-level research provides fundamental building blocks that allow us to understand how cells of the nervous system are generated, how they migrate into position and differentiate to assemble into neuronal circuits. In particular, our researchers are working to understand the genetic and environmental interactions which encode brain function in particular cortical regions, as well as seeking to identify the function of many brain cells which remain poorly understood. Building on our cellular studies, systems-level research of the brain seeks to understand how neural circuits give rise to behaviour. Our research is particularly focussed on perception, using a multidisciplinary approach to understand the functional organization and plasticity of the brain, relating to functions such as hearing, vision and decision making in both humans and relevant animals models. Elsewhere, recently developed optogenetic manipulation techniques allow us to probe and analyse neural circuits, and understand their impact on behaviour. While such research is not explicitly translational, its findings are of increasing interest to clinicians hoping to understand patient perception of disease and illness.

Finally, our disease-focused studies seek to translate this basic science into treatments. With the majority of neurodegenerative disease currently poorly treatable and increasingly common, our research tackles the problems at its roots. Working with patients and animal models, our studies employ a broad range of biological techniques, from imaging to genetic analysis, to understand the development of illnesses such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer's and motor neuron disease. The approach is working, too: our pioneering Parkinson’s research is shedding much new light on the disease’s development, and we have developed genetic treatments for the neuromuscular disorder Duchenne muscular dystrophy that are in late-stage clinical trials.

By tying together these three strands of research, we hope to achieve an unparalleled understanding of brain function and disease.



Groups within this theme

Hearing Loss and Tinnitus
Bajo Lorenzana Group

Hearing Loss and Tinnitus

Cortical Microcircuitry in Behaviour
Bruno Group

Cortical Microcircuitry in Behaviour

Optical probing of neural networks in the developing neocortex
Butt Group

Optical probing of neural networks in the ...

Glucocorticoids, Annexin 1 and the Neuroendocrine–Immune Interface
Christian Group

Glucocorticoids, Annexin 1 and the ...

Monoamine transmission: mechanisms, microcircuits and movement
Cragg Group

Monoamine transmission: mechanisms, microcircuits ...

Molecular Analysis of Neuromuscular Diseases
Davies Group

Molecular Analysis of Neuromuscular Diseases

We investigate neuroimmune molecular mechanisms underlying obesity.
Domingos Group

We investigate neuroimmune molecular mechanisms ...

Genetic Dissection of Sexual Behaviour
Goodwin Group

Genetic Dissection of Sexual Behaviour

Neural coding and plasticity in the auditory system
King Group

Neural coding and plasticity in the auditory ...

Circuit Mechanisms of Learning and Decision Making
Lak Group

Circuit Mechanisms of Learning and Decision Making

Laboratory of Oscillations & Plasticity
Mann Group

Laboratory of Oscillations & Plasticity

Optical Control of Neurons;
Neuronal Control of Behaviour
Miesenboeck Group

Optical Control of Neurons; Neuronal Control of ...

Cerebral Cortical Development and Evolution
Molnar Group

Cerebral Cortical Development and Evolution

Gene Transfer of Nitric Oxide Synthase into Cardiac Nerves Modulates Neurotransmission
Paterson Group

Gene Transfer of Nitric Oxide Synthase into ...

Neural activity in learning and executing movement
Peters Group

Neural activity in learning and executing movement

We study postnatal and adult mammalian brain stem cells to uncover fundamental developmental mechanisms and disease pathogenesis.
Szele Group

We study postnatal and adult mammalian brain stem ...

Sleep, brain and behaviour laboratory
Vyazovskiy Group

Sleep, brain and behaviour laboratory

Memory, motivation and individuality
Waddell Group

Memory, motivation and individuality

Understanding molecular mechanisms of age-related neurodegenerative diseases to generate novel molecular therapies
Wade-Martins Group

Understanding molecular mechanisms of age-related ...

We investigate how the activity of neurons in the brain give rise to our perception of sound.
Walker Group

We investigate how the activity of neurons in the ...

Latest news

New evidence for how our brains handle surprise

A new study from the Bruno Group is challenging our perceptions of how the different regions of the cerebral cortex function. A group of ‘quiet’ cells in the somatosensory cortex that rarely respond to touch have been found to react mainly to surprising circumstances. The results suggest their function is not necessarily driven by touch, but may indicate an important and previously unidentified role across all the major cortices.

Professor Dame Sue Black to deliver 2022 Christmas Lectures

In the 2022 Christmas Lectures from the Royal Institution, DPAG's Visiting Professor of Forensic Anatomy Dame Sue Black will share secrets of forensic science.

Researchers describe how cancer cells can defend themselves from the consequences of certain genetic defects

Swietach Group scientists have identified a rescue mechanism that allows cancers to overcome the consequences of inactivating mutations in critically important genes.