Prof. Dr. Denise Manahan-Vaughan, Learning and Memory, Department of Neurophysiology, Faculty of Medicine

Denise Manahan-Vaughan

Research Programme:

Our goal is to understand  how the hippocampus, the brain’s main structure for declarative, episodic and associative memory,   uses synaptic plasticity to enable memories that last for long periods  of time.  We study this in healthy subjects but also in the context of brain disease’s such as Alzheimer’s. schizophrenia, multiple sclerosis  and epilepsy.

Our approach incororate a higly multidisciplinary  neuroscientific strategy  that  fuses electrophysiological recordings of synaptic plasticity  at the field and single-unit levels, neuronal oscillations  and EEG recordings in vivo and in vitro,  with  behavioural analysis of learning.   Cutting-edge novel methodology including brain imaging using confocal microscopy,  functional in situ hybridisation  and functional  magnetic resonance  imaging enable us to scrutinise systemic processes, whereas cellular processes are examined using optogenetic, neuropharmacological,  biochemical and molecular biological approaches.

Our team is highly international  and possesses a strong critical mass of technical and theoretical expertise that is implemented to enable rapid and intensive training of our doctoral students (

PhD projects

  • Place cell and head direction cell recordings during learning in physical and virtual spatial environments (behavior, single-unit recordings from the rodent brain, interations with computational neurosience research partners)
  • Investigation of the role of the hippocampus in the integration of sensory information to enable long-term memory (in vivo electrophysiological field potential recordings, optogenetics, behavior, fMRI)
  • Studies of the role of sensory structures in informaitional storage and recall (fMRI in rodents, behaviour, in vivo electrophysiology)
  • Investigation of the underlying mechanisms of hippocampal deficits in brain disease (behavior, animal models of brain disease such as AD, n vitro electophysiology, confocal microsopy, transgenic models)

Applied Methods

  • Stereotactic electrode implantations for long-term recordings of single-unit or field potentials from rats or mice
  • Intracerebral and intrahippocampal injections for neuropharmacological analysis
  • Optical imaging in vivo
  • Multiphoton confocal microscopy
  • Analysis of synaptic plasticity, single-units (place cells, head direction cells) or neuronal oscillations in intact rodents
  • Patch clamp, multielectrode array and field potential recordings in vitro
  • Intracortical and intrahippocampal EEG analysis
  • Optogenetics
  • Transgenic mouse models
  • Animals models of brain disease
  • Western blot, rtPCR, pull-down assay
  • In situ hybridisation, immunohistochemistry, histological analysis
  • Behavioral analysis of learning (t-maze, radial maze, open field, delyayed matching to sample task, objec recognition, starte response analysis etc...)
  • fMRI in rats and mice