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Investigating brain networks underlying cognitive processes in rodents

Project supervisor: Dr. Todor Gerdjikov, Department of Neuroscience, Psychology and Behaviour
Industrial collaborator: BAST Inc Limited
University of registration: University of Leicester

Project title: Investigating brain networks underlying cognitive processes in rodents

Project description:

This project will explore fundamental mechanisms of cognition which are compromised in mental health conditions and ageing. Specifically phencyclidine administration in rats impairs cognitive processes and is used to study attentional mechanisms. Recently we implicated a brain network involving mPFC and accumbens (NAc) in cognitive deficits in this model (e.g. Asif-Malik et al, 2017). These deficits may involve distributed circuits involving hippocampus. Hippocampal and mPFC projections to NAc show complex interactions, potentially involving ventral subiculum hyperactivity and mPFC hypoactivity (Belujon et al 2014). We will investigate how interactions between hippocampus and mPFC mediate cognitive deficits in the phencyclidine model with simultaneous neurophysiological recordings. The data will be subjected to sophisticated quantitative analyses (cross-site coherence, causal modelling, etc.) to characterize the underlying network dynamics. The student will carry these out on-site with the industrial collaborator who brings in expertise in mathematical modelling of biomedical data. The project will achieve a mechanistic understanding of brain systems relevant to cognitive control which is relevant to declining cognition observed in ageing, a major societal issue at present.

Contact: Dr Todor Gerdjikov, University of Leicester

How to apply for this project?