Based at the University of Nottingham, I am a second year PhD student funded by the BBSRC and working in collaboration with Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH & Co. KG in the field of Behavioural Neuroscience.
My work is focussed on the impact that disruptions within the GABAergic network has on prefrontal mediated function, in the form of cognitive flexibility (indexed by reversal learning). My research is translational in nature, being carried out in rats, with cross-diagnostic, clinical implications for several neurlogical disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease or Schizophrenia.
My current area of research studies the relationship of prefrontal GABAergic activity and cognitive functioning in rats. More specifically, how bi-directional GABAergic manipulation can result in… read more
My current area of research studies the relationship of prefrontal GABAergic activity and cognitive functioning in rats. More specifically, how bi-directional GABAergic manipulation can result in disruptions in the ability to adapt ot changing demands in the environment, referred to as cognitive flexibility (CF).
Many neurological disorders, characterized by disruptions within the prefrontal GABAergic network, such as Alzheimer's Disease or Schizophrenia, also exhibit phenotypes of substantial cognitive inflexibility. Interestingly, even though this inflexibility is very cross-diagnostic and can even be observed in normal cognitive ageing, very little has been done to address this in terms of therapeutics. Therefore, it is vital for translational research to establish the mechanisms and circuits involved in this cognitive phenotype.
In particular, I am looking at reversal learning, a facet of CF that has been shown to be especially impaired in clinical groups, such as SZ (see Leeson et al., 2009, Biol Psychiatry, 66(6)).
Typical methods of my studies involve: stereotaxic cannula implantation in rat strains; behavioural conditioning on operant lever-press tasks; intra-cerebral microinfusions of selected drugs, transcardial perfsion fixation, and most recently the introduction of pharmacogenetic manipulations through the expression of DREADDs to selectively silence interneurons; as well as several forms of histological procedures.
Supervisor: Dr. Tobias Bast, University of Nottingham
In collaboration with Boehringer Ingelheim Pharma. GmbH & Co. KG
My past research was focussed on the age-related cortical morphology of primates, and how these compared to trajectories of human morphologies. This was based on the notion that primates, especially chimpanzees, are a lot more resilient to neurological disease than humans, especially with respect to Alzheimer's disease.
We looked at three main morphologies, namely, cortical grey-matter thickness, overall grey-matter volume, and fractal dimensionality (FD). The latter is a mathematical concept that can be used to quantify the complexity of the cortex, taking into account the folding of the brain, and how this changes with age.
Supervisor: Dr. Christopher Madan, University of Nottingham.