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Understanding brain function and disease

Biocytin labeling of two synaptically coupled pyramidal cells in medial entorhinal cortex (Julian Bartram)

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

Understanding Cerebellar Development and Disease
Becker Group

Understanding Cerebellar Development and Disease

Development of cranial sensory neurons
Begbie Group

Development of cranial sensory neurons

Optical engineering and microscopy for neuroscience and biomedical imaging
Booth Group

Optical engineering and microscopy for ...

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: from motivation to movement
Cragg Group

Monoamine transmission: from motivation to ...

Human genetic disease
Davies Group

Human genetic disease

Development of delivery vectors for therapeutic nucleic acids and proteins
El Andaloussi Group

Development of delivery vectors for therapeutic ...

Forebrain Evolution Research laboratory
Garcia-Moreno Group

Forebrain Evolution Research laboratory

Proton dependence of intracellular calcium signalling in the cerebellum in health and disease - role of extracellular pH sensing receptors and ion channels.
Glitsch Group

Proton dependence of intracellular calcium ...

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 ...

Encoding information in neural circuits.
Kohl Group

Encoding information in neural circuits.

Visual Perception and Decision-Making
Krug Group

Visual Perception 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

Morris Group

Ultrastructural immunocytochemistry

Investigating novel gene function in neurodegeneration and behaviour
Oliver Group

Investigating novel gene function in ...

Neural systems and circuits for visual perception
Parker Group

Neural systems and circuits for visual perception

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

Gene Transfer of Nitric Oxide Synthase into ...

Nanodiamond as a sensor for biologically generated electric and magnetic fields
Patton Group

Nanodiamond as a sensor for biologically ...

Visuomotor control in movement disorders and developmental dyslexia
Stein Group

Visuomotor control in movement disorders and ...

Adult brain stem cells: from mechanisms to disease
Szele Group

Adult brain stem cells: from mechanisms to disease

Axon Growth and Guidance in the Developing and Regenerating Central Nervous System
Taylor Group

Axon Growth and Guidance in the Developing and ...

Exploring mechanisms underlying dopamine neuron vulnerability in Parkinson's disease
Threlfell Group

Exploring mechanisms underlying dopamine neuron ...

Theoretical and Computational Neuroscience
Vogels Group

Theoretical and Computational ...

Sleep, brain and behaviour laboratory
Vyazovskiy Group

Sleep, brain and behaviour laboratory

Memory, motivation and neural transposition
Waddell Group

Memory, motivation and neural transposition

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 auditory cortex give rise to our perception of sound.
Walker Group

We investigate how the activity of neurons in ...

Nucleic Acid Gene Therapy in Brain and Muscle
Wood Group

Nucleic Acid Gene Therapy in Brain and Muscle