My project tackles an important question in an interdisciplinary context: How does experience with similar stimuli increase the distinctiveness of their memories? This question has been investigated by behavioural scientists in the context of perceptual learning, where animals given simple exposure to similar stimuli (e.g., two textures) will later discriminate between them more readily than between two novel stimuli. It has also been examined by neuroscientists studying the rodent whisker system and experience-based changes in the barrel cortex. This project attempts to understand the neural mechanisms of perceptual learning in rodents using the whisker system. I will be investigating this using methods which include two photon microscopy, optogenetic imaging and behavioural paradigms.
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Research topics and related papers
The cerebral cortex is most highly developed in humans. It is that part of the brain which gives us our distinctively human qualities. How does the cortex process information and how does it store new information, in other words, how does it remember? We are studying these questions in an area of the brain that processes tactile information. We record neuronal activity and measure the way sensory processing is modified by experience (experience-dependent plasticity).
BBSRC South West Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership
2011 – 2014: BSc (Hons), Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychology, University of Manchester
2014 – 2015: MSc, Clinical Neuroscience, King’s College London
Thesis title: Mouse neurexin-1-α deletion and social isolation causes anxiety-related behaviours but no impairment in cognition