My lab is interested in how sensory information is assembled by the brain into more complex, cognitive representations of the world. Our focus is on the “cognitive map”, which is formed by the hippocampus and associated structures and underlies our sense of direction and sense of place. This map is also used to organise memories of life experiences.
We study the cognitive map by recording single neurons from animals exploring space, and trying to decode the signals and understand what information they convey. We also study behaviour in order to determine what an animal “knows” about where it is and where it plans to go. The work will help us understand not just navigation but also cognition more generally, and may have implications for clinical disorders of navigation (topographical disorientation) and memory.
The lab is part of a bigger group of researchers known as the Institute of Behavioural Neuroscience (IBN), which I established in order to develop the biological profile of the department and bring psychology and neuroscience closer together.