Beacon Anne Mclaren Fellow
Phone: 0115 84 67241
My goal is to reveal the neurochemical mechanisms of human semantic cognition by establishing combinations of neuroscientific methods.
How would you explain your research?
My primary research interest is to understand the neural basis of semantic cognition and its plasticity. Semantic cognition refers to our ability to use, manipulate and generalize knowledge and is a crucial function for our communication (verbal and nonverbal) and activities of daily living, for example, object use. GABA and glutamate, as major neurotransmitters in brain, play a major role in shaping cognitive functions while the complex interplay between them generates the neuroplasticity that enables the brain to adjust its performance. Therefore, one of the key issues in cognitive neuroscience is to link the underlying neurochemical mechanisms to our flexible cognitive behaviours, which has critical implications for clinical interventions.
My goal is to reveal the neurochemical mechanisms of human semantic cognition by establishing combinations of neuroscientific methods. Throughout my research, I answer two key questions:
- How does neural activity shape human higher cognition in healthy and impaired system?
- How does neuro-modulation mediate the neural activity leads to neuroplasticity?
What inspired you to pursue this area?
I have always been interested in how our mind works.
To pursue the answer to this question, I chose a degree in psychology and then moved to cognitive neuroscience for my PhD – to study brain structure and function where our mind sits.
I’m inspired by many exciting findings in neuroscience revealing the secrets of brain. I also get to work with world-class researchers from many different domains, which ensures that my research is interesting and fulfilling.
What’s been the greatest moment of your career so far?
I have had several exciting moments in my career. Recently, I applied a challenging method to modulate the brain system, which was successful. This approach can be used as an alternative form of rehabilitation for patients with neurological and psychiatric disorders.
How will your research affect the average person?
The topic of my research is semantic cognition which is an essential component of human cognition and enables us to interact with worlds. Given its central role, it is no wonder that loss of semantic function causes considerable disability in activities of daily living. Semantic impairments are a common deficit across many different diseases of the brain including neurodegenerative disorders. For example, frontotemporal dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia and depression.
My research will have a significant impact on medicine and clinical science. Specifically, improving our knowledge of the neurotransmitter system's underlying cognitive functions. My research will help us understand how drugs related to neurotransmitters work in these patients.
What aspects of your research and role are you looking forward to?
I am very excited to develop and establish cutting-edge neuroscientific methods, tackling my research questions as well as working with many experts based at the University of Nottingham.
I will translate the newly developed approaches into clinical territory to improve our understanding of neurological and psychiatric disorders.
The Precision Imaging Beacon will support my research, which enables me to pursue my goals, broaden my research field, and move my career towards independence.
How does being based at the University allow you to fulfil your research aspirations?
The Precision Imaging Beacon allows me to build collaboration across the disciplines and facilities and start a new field of research. The University of Nottingham has a long-standing reputation for transformative, world-class research, especially in neuroscience. Also, it offers a high-quality research environment including experimental equipment and research facilities supporting cutting-edge neuroscientific techniques.
There has been a lot of support for setting up my work and opportunities to obtain general advice and guidance to develop my career.
Who helped you get to where you are today?
My PhD supervisor and current mentor at the University of Nottingham, Prof Stephen Jackson, introduced me to this exciting field of research and taught me to conduct neuropsychological experiments.
My postdoctoral boss at the University of Manchester, Professor Matt Lambon Ralph, is a great mentor and I had the best time working with him; he inspired my line of research and guided me to be a good researcher. Now at Nottingham, I thank Prof Dorothee Auer for her support and advice.
What’s next for you?
I want to work with experts from different research fields, build my own group and make an impact on the cognitive and clinical neuroscience.
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