The affiliates program is currently open, on an invitation-only basis, to London-based neuroscientists whose work particularly aligns with that of one or several SWC Group Leaders.
Affiliates are invited to SWC events and have access to the FabLabs and some other core resources. They can host SWC PhD students for lab rotations and act as their joint supervisors for placements, subject to previous experience successfully graduating PhD students. They are also invited to jointly host seminar speakers at the SWC.
There are currently twenty affiliates from a number of UCL departments and other London universities, who are collaborating with SWC researchers on a wide variety of ideas:
Tim Behrens (University of Oxford and UCL)
Professor Behrens interested in understanding how our brain builds models of the world to enable flexible behaviour. He has a particular interest in neural computation in frontal and temporal lobes. His work crosses species from rodent to nonhuman primates to human. Ongoing projects at the SWC include a collaboration with Barry, Burgess, and Caccucci to investigate neuronal representations of flexible behaviour in mice.
Isaac Bianco (Department of Neuroscience, Physiology and Pharmacology, UCL)
Dr Bianco’s group is working to understand how animals make sense of their visual world and generate appropriate behaviour. They study how the brain perceives salient visual cues (for instance related to predators and prey), how visual perception is combined with internal state information to select appropriate actions, and how network dynamics within motor circuits produce behavioural outputs. The lab exploits the power of the tiny, optically transparent larval zebrafish and combines behavioural assays, calcium imaging (using 2-photon and light-sheet microscopy), optogenetics, neuroanatomy and computational modelling to understand the structure and operation of visuomotor circuits.
Jennifer Bizley (Ear Institute, UCL)
Professor Bizley's research seeks to link the patterns of neural activity in auditory cortex to our perception of the world around us. Making sense of the complex mixture of sound that arrives at our ears is a considerable neurocomputational challenge – and one that cannot yet be solved by machine listening devices. Their research methods combine electrophysiological recordings (from auditory, parietal and frontal cortex) during the performance of complex sensory discrimination tasks, with causal manipulations of neural activity, animal and human psychophysics and computational modelling.
Matt Botvinick (DeepMind; Honorary Professor at the Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit)
Professor Botvinick serves as Director of Neuroscience Research at DeepMind, leading an interdisciplinary research team spanning artificial intelligence, neuroscience and cognitive science. His research focuses on the neural and computational basis of goal-directed behavior, drawing on concepts from deep learning, reinforcement learning and other related paradigms. A core interest, relevant to Professor Botvinick's SWC affiliation, is in fostering potential synergies between neuroscience and artificial intelligence research.
Rob Brownstone (Division of Neurosurgery, UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology)
Rob Brownstone, Professor and Head of the Division of Neurosurgery at the UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology, focuses on the study of neural circuits for movement. Using a number of varied approaches, his lab group studies circuits primarily for command (brain stem) and organisation (spinal cord) of movement of the fore and hind limbs. To this end, he collaborates with a number of groups, including that of Andy Murray at the SWC.
Neil Burgess (Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, UCL)
Professor Burgess is a member of the UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and the UCL Institute of Neurology. His research interests include the neural mechanisms supporting memory, with particular interest in the role of the hippocampus in spatial and episodic memory, and the role of other brain regions and forms of memory such as phonological working memory.
Matteo Carandini (Institute of Ophthalmology, UCL) and Kenneth Harris (Institute of Neurology, UCL)
Professors Carandini and Harris run a joint lab which aims to understand how the brain processes sensory signals, and integrates them with internal signals to guide decision and action. They wish to understand these processes at the level of large populations of individual neurons and investigate these questions with a combination of experiment and computational analysis. They work mostly in the mouse brain, with techniques such as neuromics, high-count electrodes (Neuropixels), optogenetics, imaging, operant conditioning, and virtual reality simulation. Matteo and Kenneth collaborate with Yoh Isogai on improved methods for highly multiplexed RNA detection in situ. They also collaborate with Tom Mrsic-Flogel and Sonja Hofer as part of the International Brain Laboratory.
Beverley Clark (Wolfson Institute for Biomedical Research)
Dr Clark is Head of Department of the Wolfson Institute for Biomedical Research, the Neuroscience Department within UCL’s Division of Medicine. Her group, which has strong scientific links with the Branco, Hofer, and Mrsic-Flogel groups, focuses on how patterns of synaptic connectivity and intrinsic electrical properties in neuronal networks together determine functional specificity of brain circuits that reflect their role in information processing during behaviour. Her work involves electrophysiological recordings, imaging and targeted activation of specific neuronal pathways.
Claudia Clopath (Faculty of Engineering, Imperial College London)
Dr Clopath holds an MSc in Physics from the EPFL and did her PhD in Computer Science under Wulfram Gerstner. She did postdoctoral fellowships in neuroscience with Nicolas Brunel at Paris Descartes and in the Center for Theoretical Neuroscience at Columbia University. She is now a Reader (equivalent to Associate Professor) at Imperial College London. She is also a visiting researcher at SWC. Her research interests are in the field of neuroscience, especially insofar as it addresses the questions of learning and memory. She uses mathematical and computational tools to model synaptic plasticity, and to study its functional implications in artificial neural networks. At SWC, she works closely with the experimental neuroscientists, building experimentally-driven theory and proposing theory-driven experiments.
Mike Hausser (Wolfson Institute for Biomedical Research, UCL)
Professor Hausser's group is interested in understanding the cellular basis of neural computation in the mammalian brain; specifically, investigating how the integrative properties of neuronal dendrites and the anatomical and functional connectivity of neural circuits contribute to coding and processing of information in the intact brain. He also collaborates with Tom Mrsic-Flogel and Sonja Hofer as part of the International Brain Laboratory
Kate Jeffrey (Department of Psychology and Language Sciences, UCL)
Professor Jeffrey's lab is interested in how neurons encode complex space. They study the activity of single neurons in the hippocampus and in those regions that project to it, in order to understand what environmental information the cells use to form their map of space.
Dimitri Kullmann (Institute of Neurology, UCL)
Professor Kullmann's research addresses how cortical circuits become entrained in health and disease. His laboratory has uncovered dynamical principles underlying gamma oscillations, and uses closed-loop optogenetic manipulation to understand the roles of such oscillations in information propagation in the brain. Epileptic seizures arise from abnormal hypersynchrony of neuronal networks, and other work in the Kullmann lab aims to understand the mechanisms of propagation of seizures and how they can be interrupted both in rodent models and in patients. The lab also uses methods developed by SWC researchers including Neuropixels to follow single units during oscillations and seizures (Kampff) and localized glutamate uncaging to understand mechanisms of dendritic integration by interneurons (Branco).
Jennifer Linden (UCL Ear Institute)
Jennifer Linden is Professor of Neuroscience at the UCL Ear Institute. She is interested in the neural mechanisms that enable us to perceive complex, temporally varying sounds. She also seeks to understand how these mechanisms might go awry in systems-level brain disorders such as schizophrenia, developmental disorders and tinnitus. Research methods include in vivo electrophysiological recording, imaging and behavioural testing in mouse models. The Linden lab also studies central auditory processing in humans and in computer models, testing hypotheses about neural mechanisms that have arisen directly from the work in mice. The lab has long-standing collaborations with Prof Maneesh Sahani at the Gatsby Unit and Prof John O'Keefe at the SWC. For further details, see www.ucl.ac.uk/ear/research/lindenlab.
Andrew MacAskill (Neurology, Physiology & Pharmacology, UCL)
Dr MacAskill's lab are working to understand how precise synaptic connectivity between neurons in the brain allow reward-driven behaviour and decision making. Currently the lab are focussed on the ventral hippocampus, and its connectivity with areas such as the prefrontal cortex and nucleus accumbens. The lab investigate the function of this circuit from the synaptic to the behavioural level using a wide variety of techniques including viral circuit mapping, two-photon microscopy, optogenetics, electrophysiology and behaviour. Problems with the communication between these areas underlie the vast majority of neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric diseases, and so they aim is to find novel ways to combat these diseases by gaining a greater understanding of the processes that they destroy. Through shared interests in reward and motivation, Andrew's lab collaborate with a number of groups including the Stephenson-Jones laboratory in the SWC.
Jason Rihel (Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, UCL)
Dr Rihel's lab use zebrafish to investigate why sleep is essential for animals as diverse as flies and humans, and to understand which regulatory genes and neuronal circuits control the timing, amount, and duration of sleep.
Andreas Schaefer (Francis Crick Institute / Department of Neuroscience, Physiology and Pharmacology, UCL)
Professor Schaefer studies individual nerve cells in the brain work together to create complex thoughts and actions, by focussing in particular on the olfactory bulb. They construct 'wiring diagrams' for this part of the brain and use genetic engineering techniques and chemicals to modify the genes and molecules inside olfactory nerve cells.
Simon Schultz (Department of Bioen, Imperial College London)
Professor Schultz works on neurotechnology, applying optical and electrophysiological techniques for probing neural circuits to brain circuits subserving vision and memory. He also develops information and theoretical tools for neural data analysis. He shares research interests in neurotechnology for whole brain connectivity mapping with Troy Margrie, and in two-photon imaging of changes in hippocampal circuit properties in mouse models of neurodegenerative disease with John O'Keefe.
Angus Silver (Department of Neuroscience, Physiology and Pharmacology, UCL)
Professor Silver is a Wellcome Trust Principal Research Fellow and Professor of Neuroscience in the Department of Neuroscience, Physiology and Pharmacology at UCL. He studies synaptic integration and circuit function in cerebellum and neocortex with in vivo, in vitro and modelling approaches. The lab also develops new tools for imaging and modelling network function including high speed 3D acousto-optic Lens two-photon microscopy, the Open Source Brain platform and NeuroMatic, an electrophysiological acquisition and analysis package. He has collaborations with the Mrsic-Flogel and O’Keefe labs as part of an NIH Brain initiative grant on microscope development and dissemination.
Steve Wilson (Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology, UCL)
Professor Wilson’s group works on the establishment and function of left-right asymmetries in the brain using zebrafish as a model system. They are addressing how neurons in the left and right habenulae acquire different functional properties and how these asymmetries impact behaviour. The group has collaborated with Adam Kampff to analyse behaviour in young fish and are keen to develop more collaborative projects.
William Wisden (Department of Life Sciences, Imperial College London)
Professor Wisden studied Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge, and then did his PhD with Stephen Hunt at the MRC Molecular Neurobiology Unit, Cambridge, followed by a period as a postdoc in Peter Seeburg’s lab at Heidelberg, Germany. He then moved to the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge as a group leader in the mid 1990s, followed by a return to Heidelberg, then to a Professorship at the University of Aberdeen (Scotland), and finally in 2009 to a Professorship at Imperial College London. William has worked extensively on the molecular biology of neurotransmitters receptors (GABA, AMPA, kainate receptors). More recently he has become interested in the circuitry regulating sleep. In collaboration with Nick Franks at Imperial he has used mouse genetics to investigate sleep-wake circuitry and the actions of sedative drugs. Recently, using activity-tagging methods, they have discovered a hypothalamic circuit linking skin warming and the induction of sleep and the control of body temperature. They have also discovered that neurons in the ventral tegmental area, a region usually studied for its contribution to regulating goal-, and reward-directed and social behaviors, contains GABA and glutamate neurons which strongly regulate sleep and wakefulness. His group are collaborating with Andy Murray, who is developing new circuit mapping techniques which are highly useful for mapping sleep-wake circuitry.