News

  • Unit

    Unit student Linda Katona who had her viva in August received the 2014 Postgraduate Award of the British Neuroscience Association for the best thesis in neuroscience. She carried out her studies under the supervision of Profs. Thomas Klausberger and Peter Somogyi and wrote up her results in the thesis: “The role of cell-type selective synaptic connections in rhythmic neuronal network activity in the hippocampus”. President-elect Prof. John Aggleton, FRS handed her the certificate in the Christmas Symposium of the BNA on the 15th of Dec. 2014.

  • Unit

    This month Colin McNamara and colleagues report compelling evidence of how rewarding or novel experiences strengthen newly-encoded spatial memories. The hippocampus provides the brain with representations of space (J. O'Keefe and J. Dostrovsky, 1971) but newly-formed hippocampal representations may degrade with time unless stabilized by additional processes.

    In this study, the Unit members show that hippocampal sleep reactivation during sharp wave/ripple events (thought important for memory consolidation) can be primed through optogenetic activation of dopaminergic afferents within the hippocampus. These dopaminergic fibres project from the brain’s reward centre in the midbrain, the VTA (ventral tegmental area). Neurons within the VTA are active during exploration of novel environments and learning of new goal locations. They further demonstrated that this optogenetic activation of the dopaminergic fibres within the hippocampus increased memory persistence measured through both behavioural performance and the sustained stability of hippocampal representations of space. These results establish a link through which the brain’s reward system can produce increased memory persistence.

    See also the Nature Neuroscience the News and Views piece about this article at http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nn.3875

  • Unit

    All Unit members rejoice and congratulate Marco and Pete, the Unit Programme Leaders honoured in Oxford University’s Recognition of Distinction Awards for 2014:

     

    Marco Capogna, Professor of Cellular Neuropharmacology

    Peter J. Magill, Professor of Neurobiology


    These titles are fitting recognitions of Marco and Pete's outstanding research performances over many years in the Unit’s research programmes, pursuing multidisciplinary systems neuroscience and tackling cellular mechanisms of network operations in behaviourally- and clinically-important brain systems such as the basal ganglia and the temporal lobe mnemonic network.

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  • Unit

    Monica Di Luca, President of the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS), recently announced the appointment of Professor J. Paul Bolam (University of Oxford) and Professor John Foxe (Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York) as new Editors-in-Chief of the European Journal of Neuroscience (EJN), the official journal of FENS.  Paul and John will be taking over from Jean-Marc Fritschy (University of Zurich) and Martin Sarter (University of Michigan), who have been at the helm for 6 years.   The new Editors-in-Chief will formally take over on 1st January 2015.

     

    The European Journal of Neuroscience was established in 1989 by the European Neuroscience Association.  The first Editor-in-Chief was Professor Ray Guillery FRS, then Chair of the Department of Anatomy in Oxford, and now a Honorary Emeritus Research Fellow in the MRC Unit.

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  • Unit

    We are pleased to welcome Minas Salib to the Unit as a Visiting Student under the supervision of Prof Peter Somogyi and Dr Tim Viney.

    He is currently completing a master’s degree in interdisciplinary neuroscience at the Goethe University of Frankfurt. He gained his Bachelor’s thesis in 2013 under the supervision of Dr Ingrid Ehrlich at the Centre for Integrative Neuroscience and Hertie Institute for Clinical Brain Research in Tübingen. During his time in the Somogyi lab he will undertake a Master’s thesis project entitled:  “Firing patterns and postsynaptic cortical targets of medial septal neurons recorded and labelled in behaving mice”.

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  • Unit

    Gengyu Li successfully defended his doctoral thesis, entitled "Firing of hippocampal neurogliaform cells induces suppression of synaptic inhibition" in his viva voce examination on 12th September 2014. Only minor corrections have been requested by the examiners. 

    Gengyu's examiners were Dr. Alberto Bacci, ICM Institut du Cerveau et de la Moelle Epiniere CNRS/INSERM Paris, and Dr. Colin J. Akerman, Dept. of Pharmacology, University of Oxford.

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  • Unit

    We are pleased to welcome Dr Hua Zhang, Dr Jennifer Kaufling, and Dr Natalie Doig to the Unit. Hua has joined us as a Research Technician, and Jenny and Natalie have joined the Unit as Postdoctoral Scientists. They will work in the group of Peter Magill, and their research shares the broad aim of defining the neuronal substrates of a functional dichotomy in the external globus pallidus of the dopamine-intact brain.

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  • Unit

    Michael Crump successfully defended his doctoral thesis, entitled "Diverse firing patterns of neurons of the medial septum and their hippocampal targets", in his viva voce examination on 9th September 2014. Only minor corrections have been requested by the examiners.

    Michael's examiners were Prof. Francesco Ferraguti, Institute of Pharmacology, University of Innsbruck, and Prof. Trevor Sharp, Professor of Neuroscience, Dept. of Pharmacology, University of Oxford.

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  • Unit

    Linda Katona successfully defended her doctoral thesis, entitled "The role of cell-type selective synaptic connections in rhythmic neuronal network activity in the hippocampus", in her viva voce  examination on 13th August 2014. Only minor corrections have been requested by the examiners.

    Her examiners were Prof. Kenneth Harris, Professor of Quantative Neuroscience, Institute of Neurology, UCL and Dr. Simon Butt, Associate Professor in Neuroscience, Dept. of Physiology, Anatomy & Genetics, University of Oxford.

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  • Unit

    We are delighted to welcome back István Lukács, a visiting medical student from the Medical University of Targu Mures, Romania where he finished his 4th year, to Prof. Peter Somogyi's laboratory for a 2 month visit. István was a previous winner of the Oxford Cajal Scholarship scheme. He joins a project on the synaptic connections of identified neurons in acute human cortical slices recorded in vitro by the group of Prof Gabor Tamas, a previous Unit member now in the University of Szeged, Hungary.

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