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Tobias Bast

Assistant Professor, Faculty of Science

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Biography

Education

2002: PhD, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich

1999: Diploma in Biochemistry (subsidiary subjects: Biopsychology and Philosophy), Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany

Positions

Since Oct 2008: Lecturer, School of Psychology, University of Nottingham,UK

2005-2008: Caledonian Research Foundation Fellow, Centre for Cognitive and Neural Systems, University of Edinburgh,UK

2003-2005: Research fellow, Division of Neuroscience, University of Edinburgh, UK

1999-2003: Research associate/ Scientist, Behavioural Neurobiology, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich

1998-1999: Studentische Hilfskraft (undergraduate assistant), Biopsychology Group, Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany

Expertise Summary

Brain mechanisms of cognition and behaviour and of cognitive and behavioural deficits; hippocampus; prefrontal cortex; learning and memory; behavioural testing; in vivo electrophysiology; rodent models

Teaching Summary

My main teaching interests are in the areas of neuroscience and biological psychology. I contribute to undergraduate (across all three years) and postgraduate teaching within School of Psychology and… read more

Research Summary

My research examines how a brain circuit consisting of the hippocampus, prefrontal cortex and connected subcortical sites mediates and integrates important cognitive functions, including… read more

Selected Publications

I offer projects through the BBSRC Doctoral Training Programme. This programme typically has a December application deadline for PhD projects starting in September of the following year. If you have questions in relation to these projects, please feel free to contact me.

If you have secured your own funding or have a specific funding scheme in mind and you would like to work towards a PhD with me, please email me. Suitable candidates would typically have some relevant research experience (e.g., from undergraduate or MSc projects).

Occasionally, funding may become available for specific PhD projects, which I will advertise on this page and on other suitable job pages.

My main teaching interests are in the areas of neuroscience and biological psychology. I contribute to undergraduate (across all three years) and postgraduate teaching within School of Psychology and also contribute some teaching to a Neuroscience module in Life Sciences.

Year 1

C81ADD: Psychology of Addiction. Handouts for my lecture can be found here.

C81BIO: Introduction to Biological Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience. Handouts for my lectures can be found here.

1st Year Tutorials: Information can be found here.

Year 2

C82NAB: Neuroscience and Behaviour. Handouts for my lectures can be found here.

C82MST: Statistical Methods 2. Handouts and material for my lectures can be found here.

C82MPR: Practical and Statistical Methods. Handouts for the lecture in week 1 can be found here.

2nd Year Tutorials: Information can be found here.

Year 3

C83MLP: Mechanisms of Learning and Psychopathology. Handouts for my lectures can be found here.

C83MAB: Mind and Brain. Handouts for my lectures can be found here.

C83MPR: Research Project. A description of the project and project-related material can be found here.

MSc Brain Imaging

Material for my lecture in C84FIM and for my seminar in C84LCN can be found here.

Information of MSc projects I offer to supervise can be found here.

MSc/PGDip Psychology (Conversion)

Material for my C84NAB seminars can be found here.

Information about the MSc project I offer to supervise can be found here.

Year 3, Neuroscience, School of Life Sciences

B13412: Sensory Neuroscience. Handouts for my lectures and the workshop can be found here.

BAP Preclinical Certificate Course

Module 8: Combining Neurobiology and Behaviour.

Current Research

My research examines how a brain circuit consisting of the hippocampus, prefrontal cortex and connected subcortical sites mediates and integrates important cognitive functions, including everyday-type memory (e.g., memory for places and events) and attention, and other behavioural processes (emotional, motivational, sensorimotor). In addition, I study how dysfunction in this neural circuit causes cognitive and behavioural deficits. My major approach to address these questions is to combine sophisticated behavioural testing with a wide range of in vivo neurobiological methods to analyse and manipulate brain function in rat models. A recent concise overview of key ideas underlying my research can be found in Bast (2011, Curr Opin Neurobiol).

Current lines of research

Hippocampo-prefrontal/subcortical interactions mediating the hippocampal learning-behaviour translation: Continuing work on the hippocampal learning-behaviour translation (Bast et al, 2009, PLoS Biol; also see press release), we aim to identify prefrontal and subcortical mechanisms underlying behavioural performance based on hippocampus-dependent rapid-place learning and to characterize how the hippocampus interacts with these sites. We have begun to collaborate with Stephen Coombes and colleagues (Mathematics, University of Nottingham) to synthesize relevant neurobiological findings into neuro-computational models.

Off balance - cognitive deficits caused by hippocampo-prefrontal neural disinhibition: Neural disinhibition, i.e. GABA dysfunction, in hippocampus and prefrontal cortex has been implicated in many brain disorders characterised by cognitive deficits, including schizophrenia, cognitive ageing and Alzheimer's disease. We aim to determine if and how prefrontal and hippocampal disinhibition disrupt cognition and behaviour and to explore new pharmacological treatment strategies. To this end, we study the neural-network effects and behavioural/cognitive deficits resulting from such disinhibition in rodent models (Pezze et al, 2014, J Neurosci; McGarrity et al, 2016, Cereb Cortex; also see press releases: 2014, 2016)

Hippocampo-prefrontal-subcortical circuit and aversive stimulus processing - fear memory and pain: Previous research, including our own, revealed a key role for the hippocampo-prefrontal-subcortical circuit in fear memory (e.g., Bast et al, 2003, Hippocampus; Pezze et al, 2003, Cereb Cortex; Heath et al, 2015, Psychopharmacology; Wang et al, 2015, Hippocampus). I continue collaborative research into the role of this circuit in fear behaviour in collaboration with Carl Stevenson (Biosciences, University of Nottingham). Recently, I have also become interested in how this circuit is implicated in chronic pain conditions. We have translational studies on the way to examine how chronic pain affects components within the hippocampo-prefrontal-subcortical circuit, as well as the cognitive and behavioural functions mediated by these components (in collaboration with colleagues at the Arthritis Research UK Pain Centre and in Life Sciences, University of Nottingham).

New applications of translational brain imaging methods in rodents: Methods developed for the non-invasive imaging of the human brain (MRI and other metabolic imaging methods) could substantially complement the neurobiological approaches traditionally used to characterise brain structure and function in rodent models. I am involved in projects adapting such methods for new applications in rodent models.

Reverse-translational studies of human place learning: We have adapted a key rodent test of hippocampus-dependent rapid place learning, the delayed-matching-to-place watermaze test (e.g., Bast et al, 2009, PLoS Biol), for human testing, using a virtual maze on a computer. Studies using this new virtual maze task in human participants will serve to support translation of findings from rodent model studies to humans.

Additional information and PDF files of selected publications can be found at: http://www.psychology.nottingham.ac.uk/staff/lpztb1/

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