How does the brain learn and remember?
Memories are vital to cognition. The brain is constantly integrating new information with prior knowledge allowing us to update our internal models of the world and thereby optimise our actions. But how does the brain learn and remember?
Researchers at the SWC study the fundamental principles by which the nervous system collects and stores information in the process of learning. We focus on ethologically relevant forms of memory across different time scales, from short term, working memory, to longer lasting memories such as those involved in spatial navigation and social interactions. We also study how the brain infers meaningful statistical patterns in the environment and how these abstract relations are formed, represented and stored.
To do this we develop customised behavioural tasks, often in virtual reality (VR) environments, and make use of a range of recording technologies including tetrode and high density neuropixels electrophysiological probes as well as two photon imaging.
Circuit and cellular mechanisms of memory are interrogated by combining experimental and computational techniques in order to determine how specific forms of learning lead to changes in the excitability of individual neurons and in the strength of synaptic connections.
Much of this work is done in close collaboration with the Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit with whom we build models and test theories on how the brain stores and recalls information.