Neuroscience

Domain Chair:

Prof. Trevor Smart

Domain Coordinator:

Dr Matt Wakelin

Communication and Events Officer:

Rachel Heatley

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Cellular Neuroscience

Side Image - Cellular

Cellular neuroscience bridges the gap between the function of individual molecules and the behaviour of entire assemblies of neurons that carry out higher level functions such as the visual system or motor system.

Nerve and glial cells process information received by the senses to analyse what is going on in the environment, they store information so that it can be retrieved later to guide future actions, and they send signals to the muscles to allow us to move, speak and interact with others. Defects in cellular processes cause brain disorders such as cancer, epilepsy, depression and schizophrenia.

UCL has many outstanding cellular neuroscience researchers working at locations across campus, including the new £9m Andrew Huxley building for Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience. UCL researchers use a wide range of techniques including patch-clamping to study electrical signals from cells; biochemistry to study intracellular signalling pathways; calcium imaging to determine how neurotransmitters regulate intracellular processes; molecular biology to probe the contributions of genes and molecular properties to cell function; and confocal and 2-photon imaging to study both the location of proteins within cells and the properties of nerve cells deep within the brain.

Highlights of this work include detailed studies of how the nervous system develops; how the gaseous messenger nitric oxide contributes to synaptic plasticity and to cell death in stroke; how neurotransmitter signalling affects nerve and glial cell function both normally and in conditions like cerebral palsy and spinal cord injury; how neuronal dendrites carry out computations; and how the blood supply to the brain is controlled.