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Inhibitory circuits in sensory processing

Project Description

Neural circuits are the building blocks of the brain’s computational power and they are responsible for generating our rich sensory perception. Our lab explores how neural circuits in the early sensory pathways operate; how they are able to take the rudimentary information available from receptor neurons and compute behaviourally relevant features. Inhibitory neurons play key roles across different sensory circuits, such as comparing intensity differences (Johnston et al., 2010), anticipating future stimuli (Johnston and Lagnado, 2015) and enabling sensory information to be conveyed in an efficient manner (Johnston et al., 2019).

You will join a lab exploring how inhibitory neurons modulate the transmission of odour information and will focus on the olfactory bulb, the first circuit in the olfactory system. Using 2-photon microscopy of genetically encoded Ca2+ indicators targeted to specific cell types, you will explore how the internal state of an animal modulates the function of inhibitory neurons and how in turn, this alters the processing of odour information. You will be trained in a range of cutting-edge physiological techniques suitable for studying the function of neural circuits, including 2-photon microscopy, electrophysiology, behavioural experiments and advanced analysis techniques. See

We are seeking a talented and highly motivated individual with a strong interest in neuroscience. The successful applicant will have some research experience and achieved a first or upper second-class honours degree in neuroscience, physiology or a related discipline. Applications from graduates in engineering, computer science, physics and maths are also encouraged. Some experience with programming (e.g. Python, Igor Pro, Matlab or similar) will be highly advantageous. Interested applicants are encouraged to contact Dr Johnston by email prior to the application deadline ().

Funding Notes

The Faculty of Biological Sciences is pleased to announce a number of fully-funded PhD studentships to start in Oct 2019, covering academic fees at UK/EU level and providing a stipend at research council rate (£15,009 for 2019-20) for 4 years. Candidates should have, or be expecting, a 2.1 or above at undergraduate level in a relevant subject. A range of projects, spanning the research areas of the faculty, are eligible for funding. Please apply online, clearly stating which project/supervisor you are interested in and including a CV and transcripts.


Johnston, J., Forsythe, I. D., and Kopp-Scheinpflug, C. (2010). Going native: voltage-gated potassium channels controlling neuronal excitability. J Physiol 588, 3187-3200.
Johnston, J., and Lagnado, L. (2015). General features of the retinal connectome determine the computation of motion anticipation. Elife 4, 10.7554/eLife.06250.
Johnston, J., Seibel, S.-H., Darnet, L. S. A., Renninger, S., Orger, M., and Lagnado, L. (2019). A retinal circuit generating a dynamic predictive code for oriented features. Neuron 102, In Press

How good is research at University of Leeds in Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 44.05

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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