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Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology+44 (0) 191 33 43993


Research Overview

My research investigates how the building blocks of memory (neurons) work in a part of the brain called the hippocampus – one of the brain regions first affected in Alzheimer’s disease. We know one of the key signs of Alzheimer’s disease is the patient forgetting where objects, such as keys, are located, but to understand why these memory problems occur we must identify and then characterise the types of brain cells affected. A substantial body of work has identified certain types of brain cells in the hippocampus that code for where we are in an environment (our inner GPS), but less is known about the brain cells coding for where other things are. Recently, we discovered a new type of brain cell, the Vector Trace Cell (VTC) - featured as a cover story in New Scientist, in over 100 media outlets worldwide, and published in Nature Neuroscience 2021 - that not only codes for the locations of objects but remembers those locations even when the objects are no longer present. This newly discovered cell type provides a novel testbed to a) better understand the neurobiological bases of memory formation; b) test Alzheimer drug treatments; c) design novel virtual reality tasks more sensitive and specific for early Alzheimer’s disease than gold standard cognitive tests of the kind used clinically and in research studies.


Journal Article

Supervision students