We work to understand the principles underlying the development and function of neuronal circuits - with a focus on the basal ganglia; a network of interconnected subcortical nuclei important for cognition and motor control

Two striatal spiny projection neurons labelled with streptavidin-Cy3 (in red) embedded in a network of GFP-labelled D1 receptor-expressing spiny projection neurons (in green).

AIMS

The overall aim of our group is to understand how neuronal circuits form early in development, as well as the processes that lead to malfunction of these circuits or degeneration later in life. Newly born neurons contain sets of genetic instructions and are exposed to early patterns of neural activity; both of which will shape their development and integration within neuronal circuits. However, genetic mutations and environmental conditions can affect their early development and lead to disorders such as autism, ADHD or Tourette’s syndrome or make neurons and circuits sensitive to malfunction or degeneration later in life. Many fundamental questions remain unanswered and need to be addressed to help improve treatment options both during early as well later life. We are actively exploring questions such as What genetic and environmental conditions are critical in establishing a neuron’s functional identity?’, ‘How malleable are neurons and circuits during the first weeks of life?’ and ‘What early-life events increase the susceptibility for circuit malfunction and degeneration later in life?' and we use a combination of multi-neuron patch-clamp electrophysiology, optogenetic and pharmacogenetic techniques, in vivo silicon probe recordings as well as behavioural and computational approaches to find answers. 

Current research INTERESTS: 

  • Neuronal Circuit Connectivity - Using multi-neuron patch-clamp electrophysiology we are investigating when and how precise synaptic connections are formed.

  • Embryonic Neural Progenitors – Using embryonic labelling techniques we are investigating the roles for diverse pools of embryonic neural progenitors in controlling neuronal identity and circuit connectivity.

  • Physiological and Pathological Neural Activity – Using both in vivo electrophysiological techniques and in vitro models of neural activity patterns we are investigating the cellular mechanisms by which these patterns are generated and their impact on the developing and mature brain.

Our team

Selected publications

Research Funding

Wellcome Trust

Medical Research Council

John Fell OUP Research Fund

Royal Society 

Lab Alumni

·       Yue Zhang, MSc in Pharmacology - PhD in Pharmacology at  University of Minnesota                       

·       Rohan Krajeski, Research Assistant  - Technical Associate at the McGovern Institute

·      Fran van Heusden, Research Assistant - PhD in Neuroscience at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

·      Myles Woodman, FHS project student - Clinical Medicine at the University of Oxford 

·      Nicholas Pasternack, MSc in Neuroscience  - NIH Cambridge Scholar MD/PhD

·      Rebecca Waterfield, FHS project student - Clinical Medicine at the University of Oxford

·      Farid Ebrahimjee, MSc in Pharmacology - Clinical Medicine

·      Monzilur Rahmann, MSc in Neuroscience - DPhil at University of Oxford

·      Anežka Macey-Dare,  Visiting student Imperial College - Medicine at Imperial College London

·      Sophie Avery, DPhil student, Veterinary Medicine at Royal Veterinary College London          

           


Related research themes