News

  • Unit

    Unit Programme Leader David Dupret, Investigator Scientist Tim Viney, D.Phil. Students Abhilasha Joshi and Eszter Korman, and Visiting Students Alison Comrie and Minas Salib, all enthusiastically served on the MRC stand at theOxfordshire Science Festival held in Oxford's Bonn Square on Saturday 7th March 2015. The Unit crew was joined by many other MRC-funded staff and students from MRC Harwell. This year, the Unit team led several interactive displays with a special emphasis on brain plasticity, dementia and memory disorders. A various range of hands-on activities were offered, such as making of brain cells (from pipe cleaners!), observation of Golgi-stained neurons and 3d models of the human brain.

    Unit D.Phil student Abhilasha Joshi commented “At the Oxfordshire Science Festival, we had to tailor our activities for an audience encompassing all age groups. We found ourselves in need of some new vocabulary to communicate: 'thorns' for spines and, my favourite, ‘head-box’ for skull. The actvities using the ‘brain plasticity goggles’ were hugely popular. We had some amazing discussions, and surprised many of our visitors with facts like ‘you have billions of nerve cells in your brain’. It was lovely to see many young children diligently making neve cells and  networks. One of them remarked that the brain cells she had made were of different ‘types’ because they had different ‘shapes’ and ‘colours’ – that insight made my day!".

    Explaining neuron morphology to children using models made from coloured pipe cleaners.
  • Unit

    Dr Damian Herz has been awarded a European Commission Horizon 2020 Fellowship (StopBeta) to study adaptive brain stimulation as part of Professor Peter Brown’s Group. Damien is particularly interested in how treatment-induced suppression of certain frequencies of movement-related neuronal activity and connectivity in the human brain explains improvements in motor function. He suggests that, in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease, selective suppression of abnormal brain activity and preservation of physiological brain mechanisms could be the key to obtaining the best possible clinical benefit whilst avoiding unwanted side effects. Damian has previously been awarded an educational scholarship of the German National Academic Foundation and a Young Researcher Award of the Danish Parkinson Society.

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  • Unit

    Dr Hayriye Cagnan is awarded a prestigious and well deserved Medical Research Council Strategic Skills Fellowship to continue her work on the causes and treatment of tremor. Hayriye will take this up in May 2015 and work between University College London and the Unit. She plans to continue her research on how deep brain stimulation can be better used to treat tremor in conditions like Parkinson's disease and Essential Tremor.

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  • Unit

    Warm congratulations to MRC Unit student Gido van de Ven for winning the Gotch Memorial Prize 2014, which is given for the best Oxford D.Phil. Transfer Status report of a graduate student in the field of Physiology. The prize comes with an award of £1,000.

    For his D.Phil. thesis research, Gido has implemented an unsupervised statistical method to identify and track cell assemblies from multi-unit recordings. Applied to tetrode recordings in the hippocampus of freely-moving mice, this method was shown to identify assemblies with strong spatial tuning that are reactivated during subsequent sleep and reinstated upon re-exposure to the same environment. To study the causal role of cell assembly dynamics in the formation, consolidation and retrieval of spatial memory, Gido has also implemented a closed-loop optogenetic feedback system to transiently silence hippocampal assemblies during on-line detected sharp-wave/ripples events. Gido's DPhil research is supervised by Dr. David Dupret.

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