News

  • Unit

    Professor Jean-Marc Fritschy delivered the 11th David Smith Lecture in Anatomical Neuropharmacology.

    "Plasticity of GABAergic synapses: mechanisms and implications"

    The 11th David Smith Lecture in Anatomical Neuropharmacology was given on 3 March 2015 by Professor Jean-Marc Fritschy of the Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University of Zurich http://www.pharma.uzh.ch/neuromorpho

    The Lecture was hosted by Professor Peter Somogyi. 

    The lecture series celebrates the vision of the previous Chair of Pharmacology Prof. A. David Smith, who set up the Unit in 1985 and is currently Honorary Associate Director.

  • Unit

    The group of Marco Capogna, in collaboration with other Unit members and with the group of the ex-Unit member Francesco Ferraguti report in the Journal of Neuroscience 35 (5): 2044-2057, 2015 the organisation of a novel GABAergic neuron type of the rodent amygdala, the so-called large intercalated cell (L-ITCc). They identified them with juxtacellular recording/labelling in vivo.

    L-ITCs are GABAergic, strongly express metabotropic glutamate receptor 1a, the GABA-A receptor a1 subunit and moderate levels of parvalbumin. Furthermore, L-ITCs are innervated by fibres enriched with metabotropic glutamate receptors 7a and/or 8a. In contrast to small-sized spiny ITCc, L-ITCc possess thick, highly-branched dendrites, and long-range axonal projections innervating interneurons in the basolateral amygdaloid complex. The axons of L-ITCs also project to distant brain areas such as the perirhinal, entorhinal and endopiriform cortices. In vivo recorded L-ITCc are strongly activated by noxious stimuli, such as hindpaw pinches or electrical foot-shocks, consistent with monosynaptic innervation shown from nociceptive intralaminar thalamic nuclei. The authors propose that, during salient sensory stimulation, L-ITCs disinhibit local and distant principal neurons, acting as “hub cells”, to orchestrate the activity of a distributed network.

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    Our warmest congratulations to Anna-Kristin Kaufmann who has been awarded a prestigious scholarship of the German National Academic Foundation.

    Anna’s D.Phil. thesis research in the Unit is focused on the function and dysfunction of midbrain dopamine neurons, and is carried out under the supervision of Dr Paul Dodson in the groups of Professor Paul Bolam and Professor Peter Magill.

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    Miss Alison Comrie joins the group of Professor Peter Somogyi as visiting student for a stay of four months.  Alison is currently an undergraduate student pursuing a B.S. Neuroscience & Cognitive Sciences degree and a student researcher at Dr Carol Barnes’ laboratory, Neural Systems, Memory, and Aging, University of Arizona. http://www.embi.arizona.edu.

    During her time in Professor Peter Somogyi’s laboratory, Alison will participate in a project on ‘Characterizing the molecular expression profiles and connectivity of medial septal/diagonal band neurons and their hippocampal synaptic targets’.

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    Paul Bolam, Juan Mena-Segovia and Peter Brown gave lectures at a functional neurosurgery meeting in Rome in December.  The conference, entitled “New ideas, perspectives and applications in functional neurosurgery”, also included the 4th Symposium on “State of the art of the deep brain stimulation of the pedunculopontine tegmental nucleus”

    The meeting took place at Magliana Castle-St. John the Baptist Hospital, in the grandly named "Julius II Hall", and included lectures on many aspects of deep brain stimulation for the treatment of a variety of disorders including Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s/dementia and Tourette’s Syndrome. 

    Paul Bolam:  “Functional organisation of the basal ganglia”

    Juan Mena-Segovia: “Neurons, neurotransmitters and connections of the PPTg"

    Peter Brown: “What can recordings from the human PPN tell us?”

  • 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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    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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