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Department of Psychology

Projects

The Neuroscience of Learning and Memory Group investigates a variety of different types of learning and memory with a variety of techniques in both animals and humans.

The neural basis of episodic memory

We have developed novel tasks of episodic memory in rats and use these tasks to investigate the role of the hippocampus and other structures in episodic memory. In particular we have made behavioural dissociations of recall and familiarity in animals with lesions to the fornix, supporting the hypothesis that recall and familiarity are reliant on separate neural systems.

The role of the cholinergic basal forebrain in memory

Using spontaneous behaviour tasks developed by the group we are investigating the role of cholinergic input to the hippocampus, especially on episodic memory. This work also explores the nature of changes to the cholinergic system in ageing and their effect on memory.

Spatial learning

The way in which animals and humans represent and learn about their spatial environment is studied by the group. This work explores the role of landmarks, and geometric cues on spatial learning.

The role of motivation on learning and memory

The work of the group on animal learning and memory uses a variety of motivated tasks (such as swimming in a water maze) and spontaneous tasks (using innate preferences for exploring novel objects). Work is being carried out on the way in which neural mechanisms underlying task performance may change depending on whether the task is motivated or not.

Sensory storage of spatio-temporal objects

Many of the objects of visual perception are intrinsically spatiotemporal. The aim of this project is to better understand how such spatiotemporal objects are represented and stored in the brain. Understanding the brain's capacity to buffer incoming information is important in understanding human interaction with a constantly changing visual environment.

Perceptual learning in vision and hearing

Repeated practice with a target stimulus can improve detection and discrimination thresholds. In this project we measure detection thresholds in noise and manipulate the predictability of the noise, whilst keeping the target constant. We ask whether perceptual learning changes the specificity of early perceptual filters, or the way in which this information is utilized by later mechanisms. Analogous experiments in vision and hearing suggest modality specific differences. 

The role of sleep in learning

There is currently much interest in the role of sleep in learning and this project aims to understand the way in which sleep may improve performance on memory tasks