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How interneurons in lateral entorhinal cortex control associative recognition memory

   School of Physiology, Pharmacology & Neuroscience

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  Prof Zafar Bashir, Prof E C Warburton  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

The aims of this project are to understand how interneurons in the lateral entorhinal cortex contribute to learning and memory. Neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and strokes as well as normal aging are characterised by long term memory loss. One form of memory that is often impaired is associative recognition memory, which is crucial for us to be able to perform normal everyday tasks such as remembering where we parked our bike or car. We have worked extensively on understanding the brain circuits and synaptic mechanisms that support this form of memory in rodents.  We have recently shown that the lateral entorhinal cortex (LEC) is essential for associative recognition memory. The LEC forms part of a wider circuit that includes the hippocampus (HPC), nucleus reuniens (NR) medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and perirhinal cortex (PRH). Whilst we are beginning to understand the circuitry of associative recognition memory there is very little known about how interneurons are involved. 

The student will work with (i) Warburton (Bristol) using behavioural and optogenetic methods to investigate roles of different interneurons (PV, SOM, NDNF) in encoding and retrieval of associative memory, (ii) Aggleton (Cardiff) using high resolution imaging to determine whether inputs from different nodes of the memory circuit converge onto the specific interneuron types, and (iii) Bashir (Bristol) using optogenetic activation of the inputs from different regions of the circuit to examine transmission and plasticity at the synapses onto the specific classes of interneurons. 

The student will gain experience in using different techniques and will join a research group with a large number of PhD students, postdocs and technicians that has a history of successful collaborations across a range of projects centred around understanding cellular and synaptic mechanisms of learning and memory. Together, this collaborative and multilevel approach will allow the student to produce significant advances in understanding how interneurons in LEC contribute to associative recognition memory. The insights from this research will ultimately help in understanding memory loss that occurs during aging, in dementia and following a stroke. 

Our aim as the SWBio DTP is to support students from a range of backgrounds and circumstances. Where needed, we will work with you to take into consideration reasonable project adaptations (for example to support caring responsibilities, disabilities, other significant personal circumstances) as well as flexible working and part‐time study requests, to enable greater access to a PhD. All our supervisors support us with this aim, so please feel comfortable in discussing further with the listed PhD project supervisor to see what is feasible.  

Information on “How to Apply” is available here:  https://www.swbio.ac.uk/programme/projects-available/. When applying to the University of Bristol, please use the following link: Start your application | Study at Bristol | University of Bristol. To choose the correct programme, please start to type 'South West' in the search box and the SWBio programme will appear. When making your application, please indicate the supervisor name and the project title on the form. Ensure you provide all supporting documents as per the programme admissions statement.

Funding Notes

Application deadline: Midnight, Monday 5 December 2022
This is a 4 year PhD studentship fully funded by the BBSRC, SWBio Doctoral Training Partnership. Full details on the BBSRC SWBio DTP programme can be found at: https://www.swbio.ac.uk/programme/projects-available/. This link includes information on projects available, eligibility requirements and the selection process.

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