Mouse Hippocampus Module

This cycle will use behavioral and electrophysiological approaches to explore hippocampal function in mice. Thanks to a generous donation of mice by The Jackson Laboratory, this year students will also have the opportunity to study hippocampal function and cognition in a mouse model of Huntington’s Disease (HD).

Students will learn how to assess hippocampus-dependent cognitive functions in these animals and their wild type controls using behavioural tasks. Electrophysiological recordings of single unit activity and local field potentials using tetrode arrays in awake behaving mice will be used to explore the properties of hippocampal place cells and hippocampal network activity in normal and transgenic animals. Electrophysiological recordings of evoked synaptic responses and neuronal excitability in hippocampal slices will be used to explore the properties synaptic circuits and spike activity in normal and transgenic animals.

The first week of the cycle will comprise exercises that teach the basic principles and techniques of behavioral testing, in vivo single unit and local field potential recording in awake behaving mice, and ex vivo extracellular and patch clamp recording in hippocampal slices. During, the second week, students will carry out experiments that they have designed to address a specific question about the relationship between hippocampal neural activity and/or synaptic function and cognition function, and/or how these may be altered in HD model mice.

Mouse Hippocampus Faculty and Teaching Assistants

mvdm_smallMatt van der Meer

I am interested in how neural activity in the brain relates to behavior, with particular focus on the interplay between learning, memory, and decision-making. In my lab, we use (a) experimental tools for the simultaneous and long-term recording of large numbers of neurons across multiple brain areas during specific behaviors, and (b) data analysis and computational modeling frameworks that draw on concepts and tools from statistics, machine learning, and related fields. Our work so far has focused primarily on the rodent hippocampus and ventral striatum, which display a rich set of neural activity patterns indicative of the prediction and evaluation of possible spatial trajectories for navigation. Matt was an NS&B student in 2005. He joined the Hippocampus faculty in 2014.


emma_imgEmma Wood
University of Edinburgh

Emma’s research explores the neural basis of learning, memory and spatial cognition, with a particular focus on the hippocampus and its interactions with up-and down- stream structures in spatial cognition and episodic memory. Her current research (much if it in collaboration with Paul Dudchenko) combines behaviour with in vivo single unit recording from awake behaving rats and mice, lesions, and pharmacological and genetic manipulations to explore the contribution of the hippocampal place cells and other spatially modulated cells to spatial disambiguation, memory and decision making. In translational research, she has recently started collaborations to assess hippocampal function in rodent models of neurodevelopmental disorders. Emma received her BSc in Psychology from the University of St Andrews (1987) and her PhD in Neuroscience from the University of British Columbia (1992). While she was a graduate student she took the NS&B course in 1991, and the following summer came back to MBL as a Grass Fellow. She did her postdoctoral research at the University of Oregon (1992-95) with Prof Janis Weeks, and at Boston University (1996-99) with Prof Howard Eichenbaum. Since then she has been at the University of Edinburgh where she is a Senior Lecturer in the Centre for Cognitive and Neural Systems. Emma was an NS&B student in 1991, a TA in 1998, and a faculty member in 1999-2002 and since 2013.


AndreFenton1André Fenton
New York University

André Fenton, is a neuroscientist, biomedical engineer and entrepreneur working on three related problems: how brains store information in memory; how brains coordinate knowledge to selectively activate relevant information and suppress irrelevant information; and how to record electrical activity from brain cells in freely-moving subjects. André and colleagues identified PKMzeta as the first molecule demonstrated to be crucial for the persistence of memories, lasting at least a month. Recordings of electrical brain activity in André’s lab are elucidating the physiology of cognitive dysfunction that is a core feature in mental illness. We recently discovered that preemptive cognitive training during adolescence changes the brain sufficiently to prevent the adult brain dysfunction and cognitive impairments that arises from brain damage during early life in a schizophrenia-related animal model. André founded Bio-Signal Group Corp., which is developing an FDA-approved, inexpensive, miniature wireless EEG system for functional brain monitoring of patients in emergency medicine and other clinical scenarios where EEG is needed but impractical. André Fenton has been a Course Co-Director and Hippocampus faculty member since 2013.


RosRos Langston
University of Dundee

After completing my undergraduate degree in Neuroscience at the University of Edinburgh I took the opportunity to stay there for a BBSRC-funded PhD under the supervision of Prof Richard Morris and Dr Emma Wood, studying rodent behavioural models of learning and memory, specifically episodic memory and schema learning. Work from my PhD on the role of the hippocampus in a variety of these behavioural tasks has been published in Nature, Science and Hippocampus among other journals. After completing my PhD in 2007 I left Scotland for Trondheim, Norway to join the laboratory of Professors Edvard and May-Britt Moser (Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience and Centre for the Biology of Memory) and learn the technique of neuronal ensemble recording in awake behaving rats. I embarked on a project investigating the development of spatial firing properties of neurons in the hippocampus and entorhinal/parahippocampal cortices of baby rats. This work was published in Science in April 2010.

Near the end of my postdoctoral project I was offered a permanent position at the University of Dundee as a Lecturer in Behavioural Neuroscience at the Division of Neuroscience, part of the newly formed Medical Research Institute. I have been there since February 2010 and am currently working on two main research areas. The first is investigating the development of different types of memory in juvenile rats with a view to using this novel approach to characterise the neuronal signature of episodic memory, and to create age-appropriate models of developmental learning and memory disorders. This project utilises behavioural testing, immediate early gene imaging and extracellular single neuron recordings from awake behaving rats, all of which are techniques currently established or being established in my Dundee laboratory. I have recently (March 2012) published the first paper from my independent laboratory in the Frontiers journal series, showing differential development of spatial vs. non-spatial memory in juvenile rats. The second is an industry funded Discovery Partnership (GlaxoSmithKline) in collaboration with Professors Jerry Lambert and Susann Schweiger (Division of Neuroscience) and Dr David Gray (Drug Discovery Unit) in which we are combining behavioural, electrophysiological and molecular genetics approaches to characterise cognitive and motor deficits in a mouse model of Huntington’s disease and develop therapeutic targets. Ros joined the Hippocampus faculty in 2013.


Alyssa Carey

Alyssa completed her graduate studies at the University of Waterloo in Canada, and spent some time as a research assistant at Dartmouth College in the USA. During her time as a neuroscientist, she recorded from hippocampal place cells while rats were performing a motivational shift task. She is now working in the medical devices industry. Alyssa joined the Hippocampus team in 2017.