Neuroscience

Research

The research activities of the Neuroscience subject group are aimed at understanding the structure, function and development of the nervous system, and the causes of various neurological disorders. We have particular strengths in the senses, synaptic physiology and the molecular and cellular mechanisms of learning and memory.

Our work utilizes a range of techniques, from molecular biology to electrophysiology and multiphoton microscopy, and a range of organisms, from mice to zebrafish and fruit flies.  We are funded by programme and project grants from The Wellcome Trust, The MRC and the BBSRC.  Many of us are now located in a new Neuroscience Centre - a three-storey building specially refurbished to provide the infrastructure required for the best research.  This building will foster a highly interactive and collaborative way of working, with substantial sharing of space and facilities. The research of laboratories in the Neuroscience Subject Group is summarized below.

Principal investigators and labs

Professor Claudio Alonso

Work in the Alonso Lab investigates the molecular mechanisms controlling gene function during animal development. In particular, we seek to define the mechanisms and roles of RNA regulation within the genetic programs that underly the formation of complex tissues, such as the nervous system.

For more information visit the Alonso Lab website.

Dr Tom Baden

We are interested how individual and small groups of neurons arranged into microcircuits break sensory patterns into parallel, highly specific representations of the outside world. We use a combination of 2-photon imaging of genetically encoded biosensors, electrophysiology, patterned light stimulation and computational modelling to probe the visual processing of individual and networks of neurons in the retina and brain of zebrafish and mice.

Professor Paul Benjamin

The Benjamin Lab carries out research in neuroscience, particularly in the field of learning and memory.

For more information visit the Benjamin Lab website.

Professor Sarah Guthrie

Our lab works on the mechanisms underlying the normal development of motor neurons, and how this relates to diseases such as cranial motor neuron disorders and motor neuron disease. Our work on normal development encompasses studies of axon guidance in the ocular motor system which controls eye movement, as well as mechanisms that underlie the formation of neuronal clusters (nuclei) in the brainstem.

For more information visit the Guthrie Lab website.

Dr Majid Hafezparast

Axonal transport and neurodegenerative disease

For more information visit the Hafezparast Lab website.

Professor George Kemenes

Despite the long evolutionary distance and obvious differences in body design and behaviour, there are remarkable similarities between the molecular mechanisms underlying associative learning in vertebrate and invertebrate animals.

For more information visit the Kemenes Lab website.

Dr Ildiko Kemenes

Our interest is in the behavioural and physiological processes underlying memory formation and especially what happens during lapses in memory.

For more information please visit the Ildiko Kemenes Lab Website.

Dr Sergei Korneev

One of the most intriguing developments in modern molecular biology is the discovery that a large proportion of the eukaryotic genome gives rise to RNA molecules that do not encode proteins. The sheer scale of this phenomenon has forced scientists to realise that the complexity of genetic programming in higher organisms including humans has been greatly underestimated.

For more information visit the Korneev Lab Website

Professor Corne Kros

The Kros lab is equipped to study the function and development of auditory hair cells – specialized cells in the inner ear that convert sounds such as speech and music into electrical signals that the brain can interpret. Current projects are focused on:

  • trying to protect the hair cells from damage by a class of antibiotics, the aminoglycosides, that have irreversible hearing loss as a side effect
  • understanding the importance of spontaneous electrical activity in hair cells before the onset of hearing.

For more information visit the Kros Lab Website

Professor Leon Lagnado FMedSci

We are investigating the cellular and molecular mechanisms regulating synaptic transmission and the way these determine the processing of information by a neural circuit. The circuit we are concentrating on is the retina and the question that guides our research is “how do synapses in the retina extract and transfer the information in a visual stimulus?

For more information visit the Lagnado Lab Website

Professor Mike Land FRS

For most of my research career I have worked in two main fields: Animal Vision and Human Eye Movements. More recently I have become interested in the old problem of how we maintain a stable world in spite of movements of eyes, head and body.

For more information visit the Land Lab website

Professor Miguel Maravall

Our senses sample a huge stream of ongoing information from the world. To make sense of this information and detect what is of interest, the brain adjusts to the spatial and temporal patterns present in the environment, and extracts noteworthy, novel or surprising aspects.

For more information visit the Maravall Lab website

Dr. Ruth Murrell-Lagnado

OWe are interested in the structure and function of ion channels and understanding their regulation and misregulation in health and disease. In recent years our attention has focused on the P2X family of cation selective channels that open upon binding extracellular ATP. We also study the mechanisms of action of the Sigma1 receptor which is resident within the endoplasmic reticulum and acts as a regulator of ion channels at the plasma membrane.

For more information visit the Murrell-Lagnado Lab website

Dr Andy Penn

Our lab is interested in understanding how genetic changes in glutamate receptors influence excitatory synaptic transmission in health and disease and affect glutamate receptors as therapeutic targets.

For more information visit the Penn Lab website

Professor Guy Richardson FRS FMedSci

Work in the Richardson Lab is concerned with understanding how the inner ear works and develops, and on unravelling some of the many causes of deafness and balance disorders.

For more information visit the Richardson Lab website.

Professor Kevin Staras

Dynamic properties of synapses in hippocampal neurons

Chemical synapses are the key sites for transmission of information around neuronal networks in the brain. My laboratory looks at the operational properties of synapses in circuits of hippocampal neurons. The research has major implications for current models of neuron-neuron communication and for understanding forms of plasticity underlying learning and memory.

For more information visit the Staras Lab website.

Neuroscience Subject Chair

Prof. Claudio Alonso

Sussex Neuroscience

We are a key part of Sussex Neuroscience, which represents the Neuroscience community across the university campus.