The projects in our experimental research portfolio share a common goal – to understand the anatomical and functional development and operation of neural circuits that underlie behaviour.
The cutting-edge fundamental research currently underway utilises essential model organisms such as flies and rodents to understand sensory processing, motor systems, reward, emotional states, memory, attention and decision-making.
The approach of the Sainsbury Wellcome Centre involves investigation at multiple scales, revealing computations performed by synapses, cells, circuits and brain regions. They use methods to identify, label, manipulate and record identified neurons in multiple brain regions during behaviour. This is achieved through the application of state of the art methods including two-photon and wide-field calcium imaging, fibre photometry, electrode array and whole-cell recordings, genetics, anatomy and connectomics, optogenetics and pharmacogenetics, quantitative behavioural methods and real-time brain-computer interfaces (closed-loop, virtual reality).
The Stanford Optogenetics Moonshot for Autism (SOMA) is a large-scale, focused, and bold effort to crack the neural code with a view to changing the treatment landscape of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). They will use causal circuit dynamics to investigate the pattens of actvities delivered to specific brainwide cells and projections, as well as determine the interventions that modify behaviour in real-time in the brain.
We have also provided a strategic award to the Oxford Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour, which aims to understand how intelligence emerges from the physical interaction of nerve cells. They work to identify within the great complexity of the brain elemental circuits that perform fundamental operations. They challenge these circuits in behavioural tests, delineate their wiring diagrams, and dissect how the circuits work.