Tara Canonica

Research group:
029 208 70078
Tower Building, Park Place

Research summary

My research investigates the neural basis of learning and memory through the examination of different rodent models of cognitive impairment. Trisomy of chromosome 21 is known to cause Down’s syndrome, a genetic condition characterized by intellectual disabilities. Located on chromosome 21 is also the gene encoding the amyloid precursor protein (APP), which is crucial in Alzheimer’s disease, a neurodegenerative disorder mainly characterized by memory impairments. Individuals with Down’s syndrome show in fact increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Hence, genes on chromosome 21 play a fundamental role in learning and memory. Genetically modified mouse models triplicating different selected genes of chromosome 21 have been developed and I will characterise the behavioural phenotypes of such mouse strains (Dp1Tyb, Ts2yey, Ts3yey). By comparing their cognitive deficits and by assessing as well as manipulating brain activity, I aim to relate specific genes to the functioning of specific brain regions and eventually to specific roles in learning and memory.

Teaching summary

2015–present: Practical Tutor for 1st year undergraduates – Leading tutorials and marking practical reports in order to develop student’s scientific report-writing skills as well as knowledge of statistical methods.

Full list of publications


Research topics and related papers

- Learning and Memory in mouse models of cognitive impairments (Down’s syndrome, Alzheimer’s disease)
- Chromosome 21, Amyloid precursor protein (APP)


School of Psychology, Cardiff University (2015-2018)

Research group

Neuroscience, Behavioural neuroscience

Research collaborators

Professor Mark Good

Undergraduate education

2008 – 2012: BSc Psychology, University of Zurich (Switzerland)
Minor in Media and Communication Science (BA)

Postgraduate education

2012 – 2015: MSc Cognitive Neuroscience, University of Zurich (Switzerland) - final grade 5.8/6
Minor in Neuroinformatics (BSc and MSc)


02/2015 – 06/2015: Research assistant, Clinical Neurorehabilitation Laboratory, University of Zurich and ETH Zurich
03/2014 – 09/2014: Research internship, Department of Neurology, University Hospital Zurich
07/2013 – 09/2013: Research internship, Virtual Neurorehabilitation Laboratory, University of Zurich and ETH Zurich