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A head and shoulders picture of Marco Bocchio

Dr Marco Bocchio, from our Department of Psychology, has received a funding award of £124,000 as part of a new project aiming to uncover new insights into the human brain.

The research could lead to better treatments for conditions such as depression and anxiety.

The funding, given by the Academy of Medical Sciences, will allow Marco to begin to explore how serotonin, the hormone that controls a person’s mood, can affect the brain’s ability to change and adapt.

This process, known as neuroplasticity, is what helps support some of the brain’s vital functions such as learning and memory as well as helping with the recovery from psychiatric conditions.

Releasing serotonin and measuring neuroplasticity

A technique known as optogenetics will be used where the neurons can be controlled with light to trigger a release of serotonin.

Electrical activity will also be used in two parts of the brain to assess if this release causes neuroplasticity.

Supporting recovery from psychiatric conditions

If this proves to be the case, then it could lead to more selective treatments being used for psychiatric conditions.

Marco’s funding success is a part of the Academy of Medical Sciences Springboard scheme with 54 researchers from 37 institutions receiving a share of £6.6 million.

All recipients will benefit from the Academy’s mentoring opportunities and career development programmes. 

Find out more:

Our Department of Psychology prides itself on being a collegiate and welcoming department, committed to success for all who work here. Through dedicated teaching sessions, an optional placement module, external speakers and even an employability retreat – we actively prepare students for working life. 

We are proud to be ranked in the Top 10 Psychology departments in the UK by The Complete University Guide 2022 and in the World Top 100 in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2023.   

Feeling inspired? Visit our Psychology webpages to learn more about our postgraduate and undergraduate programmes. 

Durham University is a top 100 world university. In the QS World University Rankings 2024, we were ranked 78th globally.