Learning and Memory Research

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 main focus is on animal studies, but we also conduct translational research on humans.

Our approach incorporates a highly 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.

We are part of two large research consortia: the SFB874 and FOR1581

Methods and techniques

  • 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 in rodents
  • 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, object recognition, startle response analysis etc...)
  • fMRI in rats and mice
  • Human EEG

Current projects

flexible admission to PhD, MD, MSc candidates!

  • Place cell and head direction cell recordings during learning in physical and virtual spatial environments (behavior, single-unit recordings from the rodent brain, interactions with computational neuroscience 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, behaviour, fMRI)
  • Studies of the role of sensory structures in informational storage and recall (fMRI in rodents, behaviour, in vivo electrophysiology, human EEG)
  • Investigation of the underlying mechanisms of hippocampal deficits in brain disease (behavior, animal models of brain disease such as AD, in vitro electophysiology, confocal microsopy, transgenic models)