Photo of Paul Benjamin

Paul Benjamin
Emeritus Professor (Neuroscience)
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T: +44 (0)1273 678506

Research

For the past 30 years I have promoted the use of the model invertebrate system, Lymnaea, for the study of the basic mechanisms underlying the neural control of behaviour. My work has concentrated on three areas of research.

1) The organization of motor circuits that generate rhythmic and reflex behaviours.

This work shows that many circuits have a distributed mode or organization with many neurons having more than one function within and between circuits. We are currently interested in how interneurons play a role in sensory-driven behavioural choices between alternative behaviours.

2) The role of neuropeptides in synaptic and behavioural plasticity

Neuropeptide genes encode many diverse peptides with multiple roles in neural circuits. This and other types of chemical modulation indicate that the 'connectome' model, which relies on describing  wiring diagrams, is an inadequate model for how the brain generates behaviour. I am currently revewing this area of research using our own networks as a model.

3) The synaptic, cellular and molecular mechanisms of memory up-dating

We discovered that lapses in memory expression occur at transition points between different phases of memory consolidation. When a second memory is induced at these lapse points memory replacement occurs so that more recent second memory is retained at the expence of the first memory, which is lost. Under our new BBSRC grant we are investigating the mechanisms underlying this type of memory up-dating.