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Disorientation is a key early symptom of dementia, but why and how do people become disoriented? We investigate the neural circuit mechanisms underlying spatial orientation in the rodent brain and study the same circuits in the human brain. Our main focus of research is on the Papez circuit, a collection of subcortical and cortical brain areas important for spatial navigation, orientation, episodic memory, and cognition.

© Dr Tim Viney

The overall aim of our group is to understand how the activity of individual nerve cells in the mammalian brain relates to their postsynaptic target neurons (i.e. their connectivity / neural circuits), and how this activity changes during different behavioural states (e.g. sleep, movement), environmental contexts (e.g. spatial navigation, sensory stimulation), and pathological processes. We are currently defining the combined activity, molecular profiles and target regions of nerve cells within the so-called 'Papez circuit' and how they contribute to memory-related processes.

Alzheimer's disease, the most common form of dementia, is defined by the progressive spread of misfolded Tau proteins and the build up of amyloid-beta plaques in the brain. We study the vulnerability of Papez circuit to pathology in the human brain and investigate the consequences of Tau pathology on rodent brain activity at the behavioural level (changes to memory), network level (oscillations), and cellular level (changes in single neuron activity). We are also investigating cell type specific biomarkers and biochemical pathways that are affected in memory-related conditions that may lead to treatments to prevent or slow disease progression.


We are happy to support fellowship applications from interested postdoctoral candidates.

Information for DPhil (PhD) applications:

Watch this space for announcements of open positions! 


Our team


Drivers of Tau pathology in the human brain

Synaptic targets of identified mouse thalamocortical neurons

Causes of the selectivity and sensitivity of 'limbic' neural circuits to neurodegeneration

Identification of GABAergic cell types in the mouse hippocampal formation


Spread of pathological human Tau in a mouse tauopathy model and its effects on rhythmic brain activity (Viney et al Cell Reports 2022)

Postsynaptic targets and rhythmicity of GABAergic medial septal neurons (e.g. Salib et al 2019, Viney et al 2018)

Behavioural-state dependent activity of identified hippocampal GABAergic neurons (e.g. Viney et al 2013, Somogyi et al 2013)


  • Branched axons / efference copies
  • Causes of sporadic Alzheimer's disease
  • Thalamocortical and corticothalamic interactions
  • Diversity of cortical and subcortical GABAergic neurons
  • Spatial memory processing in the temporal cortex (e.g. cell assemblies, spatial modulation)
  • Tauopathies
  • Neuromodulation
  • Neuropeptides
  • Sleep-wake cycles
  • Oscillations (e.g. theta, gamma, ripples)


  • Histology (immunohistochemistry, horseradish peroxidase-based diaminobenzidine reactions)
  • Light microscopy
  • Electron microscopy
  • In vivo neurophysiology
    • Single neuron extracellular recordings and juxtacellular labelling in awake and freely moving mice
    • High density neuronal recordings in virtual environments
  • Behavioural testing
  • Viral tracing


  • Alzheimer's Society
  • John Fell Fund
  • MRC
  • Nuffield Benefaction for Medicine and the Wellcome Institutional Strategic Support Fund

Lab Alumni

  • 2023 N Sypsa (MSc in Pharmacology)
  • 2023 K Holland (FHS student)
  • 2022 V Gautsch (MSc in Pharmacology) - Research Associate, Department of Oncology, University of Oxford
  • 2022 D Glickman (FHS student)
  • 2021 V Bagge (FHS student)
  • 2021  H Hilton (MSc in Pharmacology) - PhD student, University of Cambridge
  • 2021  D Brizee (BBSRC DTP rotation student) - DPhil student, University of Oxford
  • 2015-2019  M Salib (MRC DTP DPhil) - Healthcare Management Consultant, Baden-Württemberg

Neurobiotin - by Lizzie Burns

This synthetic molecule is a derivative of a natural chemical, biotin, also known as Vitamin B7. The vitamin whose name refers to life (bio) is used in our cells for a wide range of metabolic processes. This synthetic derivative can be introduced into single brain cells in order to study their internal architecture and trace the fine processes - axons and dendrites – within and across different brain regions, revealing hidden details of the cellular diversity of the nervous system.

Related research themes