Abstract:  How do cells of the brain implement computations important for cognition? The well characterised spatial firing of grid cells and other neurons in the medial entorhinal cortex (MEC) make this structure an excellent model for investigation of cognitive circuitry. However, the the mechanisms by which grid and other spatial codes are established and their roles in behaviour are unclear. I will discuss experiments that investigate molecularly defined cell types in the medial entorhinal cortex, their contribution to real world and virtual behaviours, and principles for their organisation into functional circuits.

Biography: Matt Nolan is Professor of Neural Circuits and Computation at the University of Edinburgh. His research group aims to understand how computations important for cognition are implemented by neural circuits in the brain. They have discovered principles for local and long-range organisation of circuits important for spatial computation, and have developed novel theoretical models for rate and temporal coding within these circuits. His current focus is on how memory and sensory stimuli are combined by these circuits. Before moving to Edinburgh, Matt was a postdoc at Columbia University working with Eric Kandel, where he contributed to discovery of cellular and behavioural roles of HCN1 channels, and prior to this he did his PhD at the University of Aberdeen, where he investigated biophysical properties of spinal sympathetic neurons.