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

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

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

Understanding Cerebellar Development and Disease
Becker Group

Understanding Cerebellar Development and Disease

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 modulation to movement
Cragg Group

Monoamine transmission: from modulation to ...

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 ...

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 ...

Information encoding in the brain
Kohl Group

Information encoding in the brain

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

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 ...

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 ...

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

Axon Growth and Guidance in the Developing and ...

Theoretical and Computational Neuroscience
Vogels Group

Theoretical and Computational Neuroscience

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

Shedding light on the brain the dawn of optogenetics

Shedding light on the brain: the dawn of optogenetics

A new Medium article from our Department explores how optogenetics has transformed neuroscientific research and opened new possibilities for the treatment of brain disorders, and sheds light on the series of early research work undertaken by Professor Gero Miesenböck and his team to evolve this breakthrough technology.

Dpag researchers shine at the aruk oxford network dementia research day 2019

DPAG researchers shine at the ARUK Oxford Network Dementia Research Day 2019

Dr Nora Bengoa-Verginory and Bryan Ng from the Wade-Martins Group were invited to deliver talks showcasing their research at the annual event from the Alzheimer’s Research UK Oxford network.

Understanding role of little known gene in regulating our metabolism

Understanding the role of little known gene in regulating our metabolism

Thousands of genes are involved in the regulation of our day-to-day metabolism and relatively little is understood about their function. One key protein, an ABC Transporter called ABCC5, has recently been predicted to be a susceptibility gene for Type 2 diabetes. In a new study selected as Editor's Choice in Obesity, Associate Professor Heidi de Wet has confirmed ABCC5's role in energy metabolism and identified the mechanism behind its metabolic impact for the first time.