Matt Nolan

Matt Nolan is Professor of Neural Circuits and Computation at the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Integrative Physiology.

A single neuron in the brain can receive signals simultaneously from tens of thousands of upstream neurons. To investigate the computations — or processes — that neurons carry out as they respond to these signals, we use cell-type specific manipulations of gene expression, electrophysiology, behavioural experiments and computational modeling.

In green are the terminals of upstream neurons and in red is a candidate downstream neuron filled with a red dye. The inset shows a process from this neuron at a higher magnification.

Neurodevelopmental disorders — such as autism spectrum disorder — essentially result from deficits in computation by neural circuits. By understanding these neuronal computations we hope to develop new approaches to treatment of neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric disorders.

My lab investigates the circuit mechanisms for computations carried out by neural circuits. We are particularly interested in computations used by the brain to estimate location.

These computations take place in an area of the brain called the entorhinal cortex.

One of our current challenges is to understand how cells in the entorhinal cortex talk to one another and to cells in other parts of the brain. We also want to understand how these interactions lead to a sense of location.

Our research employs a multidisciplinary approach that combines experimental methods including electrophysiology, optogenetics, molecular biology and virtual reality, with development of theoretical models and computation tools.


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