Sussex Neuroscience

Circuits, Systems and Computational Neuroscience

The issues addressed in systems neuroscience include how neural circuits function to produce reflexes, process sensory information and coordinate motor actions. How do learning and memory work? How do we see, hear and smell? To anwer these questions we also need to understand how signals are processed and transformed within circuits of neurons and the computational principles by which these circuits operate.

Sussex was the first University in the UK to recognize the importance of computational approaches in the Neurosciences with the founding of the Centre for Computational Neuroscience and Robotics in 1996.  This group evolved from pioneering work in Artificial Intelligence begun in 1960's and an Interdisciplinary Reseach Centre on Simpler Systems Neuroscience established in the 1990s.  Sussex has been at the forefront of research on sensory systems for decades and this continues with our multidisciplinary research on vision, hearing and smell.  Current work at the circuit level investigates learning and memory in molluscs, addictive behaviours in rats, olfactory processing in insects and visual processing in the retina of zebrafish.  We use techniques such as single-cell electrophysiology, multi-electrode arrays and multiphoton imaging in vivoThe breadth and depth of our interests in Circuits, Systems and Computational Neuroscience is demonstrated by the work of the groups below.

Lab websites

Professor Jonathan Bacon - Development of neural circuits underlying insect escape behaviour. Pheromone signalling coordinating ant foraging.

Dr Luc Berthouze -  Noise in brain signals during development: threading a fine but useful line between order and disorder.

Professor Paul Benjamin - We aim to understand the adaptive role of temporary lapses of recall in memory consolidation.

Dr Tom Baden - How do visual systems sample and process behaviorally meaningful input, and how can the underlying neuronal networks adapt to changing sensory demands?

Dr Chris Buckley - The implications of a situated, embodied and dynamic perspective on cognition for modern neuroscience.

Professor Mara Cercignani - I am interested in all aspects of quantitative MRI with the specific aim of translating physics development into clinical applications.

Professor Tom Collett - How do insects ‘represent’ a familiar visual scene?

Dr Paul Graham - I am interested in the efficient computational mechanisms that enable insects to produce sophisticated visual learning and navigation despite their small brains.

Professor Phil Husbands - Biologically inspired approaches to generating behaviour in robots that can help to shed new light on issues in neurobiology.

Professor George Kemenes - Analysis of evolutionarily conserved cellular and molecular mechanisms of memory function and dysfunction in defined neural circuits?

Dr Ildiko Kemenes - I am interested in the behavioural and physiological processes underlying memory formation and especially what happens during lapses in memory.

Professor Leon Lagnado - How do synapses in the retina and cortex contribute to the processing of visual information?

Professor Mike Land, FRS - Evolution of optical systems and visual behaviour in animals. Human eye movements and the representation of space.

Professor Miguel Maravall - How do neurons cooperate to extract information and meaning from sensory stimuli that vary over time?

Dr Jeremy Niven - I’m interested in how neural circuits in animal brains have evolved in relation to behavior that they generate and the energy they consume.

Professor Thomas Nowotny - How can circuits in the brain function reliably in face of the variability of all their components?

Professor Mick O'Shea - What do simple neuronal networks tell us about how the human brain acquires, processes, stores and uses information?

Professor Daniel Osorio - Animal vision: colour, communication and camouflage.

Dr Andy Philippides - I use computational and robotic models to investigate a broad range of subjects, including insect navigation, diffusible neuromodulation and learning and memory in general.

Professor Anil Seth - How do conscious experiences, subjectivity, selfhood, and ‘free will’ emerge from embodied brain activity?

Focus on

Andy with Robot
Andy Philippides (Senior Lecturer)
‘When I came to Sussex following a degree in mathematics at Cambridge University, the importance of quantitatively modelling neural processes was not widely recognised. Since then, computational neuroscience has grown into a major international discipline. The strong links between computing and neuroscience provided by the CCNR at Sussex gave me a fantastic opportunity to apply my mathematical skills to the modelling of complex biological systems. By combining behavioural experiments with modelling and robotics, we can examine how an animal’s neural signals are dynamically affected by its movement and surroundings. I began by modelling the diffusion of the gaseous neurotransmitter nitric oxide (NO), and have since developed neural network models and examined visual navigation and learning strategies in insects. It has been satisfying to see the increase in demand for modelling to support the ever-more technical experimental approaches across neuroscience. I’m happy now to be returning to the role of NO in the brain, especially in learning and memory.’