Richard Morris investigates the neurobiology of learning and memory — that is, how the brain mediates the acquisition and storage of knowledge, and its later recall. Richard developed one of the most widely used tests for studying the causal mechanisms of memory in animals, and has used this to dissect the role of a brain structure called the hippocampus in spatial memory and navigation.
His other findings include the observation that activating NMDA receptors within the hippocampus is essential for encoding memories. He also co-developed the ‘synaptic tagging and capture’ hypothesis of long-term potentiation - a cellular mechanism that forms the foundation of how memories are selectively retained - and is now working on the neurobiology of mental schemas.
Richard has held various posts related to science administration including, by secondment, the post of Head of Neuroscience at the Wellcome Trust, and serving as President of the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies. He is passionate about encouraging the public to engage with science and supports efforts to inspire young people to embark on a career as a scientist. This stems from a time early in his own career when he worked on both a human biology exhibition at the Natural History Museum in London and within the Science and Features Department of the BBC.
Professor of Neuroscience, Centre for Cognitive and Neural Systems, University of Edinburgh
Hippocampus, Synaptic Plasticity, Learning, Memory, Neuroscience
For greatly advancing the understanding of the physiological and psychological processes underlying memory.