Research Fellows Directory
Professor John Aggleton
My research examines how different brain structures interact to support memory, with a specific emphasis on recognition memory and day-to-day event memory (sometimes called episodic memory). The focus is on understanding these mechanisms in the normal brain and identifying how these same mechanisms go wrong in disease. A particular emphasis is on developing broad, anatomically-based models that incorporate the full range of candidate structures. Past research has typically targeted a small number of brain sites thought to be of especial importance (e.g. the hippocampus), leading to failure to appreciate the broader picture.
For these reasons my research starts with the neuroanatomy of the brain. My goal is to uncover the fine detail of the interconnections between two related regions, the medial temporal lobe and the medial diencephalon, both implicated in memory. I am concerned with determining both similarities and differences in these connections across species (e.g. rodents to primates). The brain structures under investigation are typically small and are very rarely affected in humans by conditions that selectively target individual sites. By combining novel behavioural tests of memory for rodents with the mapping of neuronal activity changes, it is possible to derive networks of structures implicated in different forms of memory. These models can then be tested both statistically and by direct intervention. Benefits associated with the proposed research include the development of much richer models of neurological diseases that impair memory (e.g. diencephalic amnesia, Alzheimer’s disease, and Mild Cognitive Impairment). A related goal is to understand better the enormous individual variation in our normal abilities to learn and memorise.
Interests and expertise (Subject groups)