Barron Group

Image
diagram of neural circuits, a fluorescence micrograph of cells in the hippocampus, an activity map plotted into a brain surface

Neural mechanisms of memory, from cells and circuits to behaviour.

Our group investigates how cells and circuits in the brain work together to perform computations that support memory. Using a wide range of technical approaches, we investigate how these computations are used to guide adaptive behaviour, but also how perturbations to these computations may explain core symptoms reported in people with psychiatric disorders.

Group Science

Throughout our lifetime we continually learn new information that we can later recall to guide adaptive behaviour. Our lab studies the specialised cell and circuit mechanisms in the brain that support this process. We investigate how memories are stored to allow precise recall; how we form links between memories to draw inferences; and the role of sleep in modulating memories over time.

We use a cross-species approach to bridge data across different scales. This involves designing tasks that assess equivalent behaviours in humans and animal models. We then leverage a diverse set of technologies to record and manipulate neuronal activity. For example, to measure precise cell and circuit mechanisms that cannot be directly measured in the living human brain we use multiunit electrophysiology, calcium imaging and optogenetic manipulations. To record and manipulate activity in the living human brain we use neuroimaging and brain stimulation. We then integrate measurements across different scales by transforming data into a common statistical framework where we can apply machine learning methods to define neural codes and computations.

Our cross-species approach provides insight into the physiological mechanisms that underpin memory in the context of adaptive behaviour. We can then leverage our approach to assess how disturbances to these mechanisms might explain core symptoms reported in neuropsychiatric disorders. Overall, our research is designed to make fundamental discoveries that can be used to inform clinical translation.

Key Research Areas
  • Defining hippocampal-neocortical interactions during learning, memory and sleep
  • Characterising the role of inhibitory interneurons in separating and integrating memories
  • Modulating neuronal computations to introduce perturbations in memory
  • Relating pathophysiology of memory circuits to core symptoms reported in psychiatric disease
Research Techniques
  • Electrophysiology (multiunit) 
  • Calcium imaging 
  • Optogenetic manipulations 
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (MRS)
  • Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI)
  • Non-invasive brain stimulation
  • Behavioural quantification
Equality and Diversity

We are committed to fostering an inclusive work environment that celebrates diversity and promotes equal opportunity within our group and the wider MRC BNDU.

Group Leader
Image
Photograph of Dr Helen Barron
Group News
Image
A group photo of attendees at the Unit’s Science Day in summer 2022.

Attendees at the MRC BNDU’s Science Day in summer 2022.

Selected Publications
Unit Publication
Barron HC
Reeve HM
Koolschijn RS
Perestenko PV
Shpektor A
Nili H
Rothaermel R
Campo-Urriza N
O'Reilly JX
Bannerman DM
Behrens TE
Dupret D
2020. Cell, 183(1):228-243.e21.
Unit Publication
Koolschijn RS
Shpektor A
Clarke WT
Ip IB
Dupret D
Emir UE
Barron HC
2021. eLife, 10:e70071.
Barron HC
Mars RB
Dupret D
Lerch JP
Sampaio-Baptista C
2021. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci, 376(1815):20190633.
Unit Publication
Koolschijn RS
Emir UE
Pantelides AC
Nili H
Behrens TE
Barron HC
2019. Neuron 101:528-541
Unit Publication
Barron HC
Auksztulewicz R
Friston KJ
2020. Prog. Neurobiol., 192:101821.
Datasets and resources

Like other Groups at the MRC BNDU, we are committed to best practice in open research.  We have created and curated a range of primary data, metadata and related resources that can be readily downloaded by external users from the MRC BNDU's Data Sharing Platform. We highlight below just a few examples of the datasets and other resources we have shared for the benefit of our stakeholders.

Koolschijn R
Shpektor A
Emir UE
Barron H
10.5287/bodleian:8JwYayQmD
Koolschijn R
Shpektor A
Emir UE
Barron H
10.5287/bodleian:vmJOOm7KD