Dr John Gigg PhD


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Research interests

Mammalian Hippocampal Formation

The hippocampus and other medial temporal lobe regions of the human brain are crucial for both the acquisition of new memories and the formation of spatial maps of the environment. It has long been assumed that these related functions depend upon information passed to the hippocampus from the cortex flowing through the processing chain within the hippocampal 'trisynaptic loop'. This scenario assumes that information is processed from one hippocampal subfield to the next in a purely sequential fashion, via feed-forward excitatory connections, from hippocampal input to output. Recent studies, however, highlight the importance of direct cortical inputs to hippocampal subfields as being important in cognition. Thus, the anatomy of the hippocampus operates in a parallel rather than purely sequential manner and we need to take this into account in our investigation of hippocampal function.

Current experiments in the lab are centred on investigating the flow of information within medial temporal lobe structures in both the normal brain and that of transgenic mice that model Alzheimer's Disease pathology. Techniques currently in use include (a) recording evoked neural activity in rodents using single or multiple (high-density) glass and metal electrodes and (b) measurements of behavioural learning (e.g., T-maze and novel object recognition). The lab operates within the Faculty of Life Sciences and we are part of the Systems Neuroscience Research Group

Experimental approaches currently include:

1. Analyzing neural recordings to determine what the physiology and anatomy of the hippocampal formation can reveal about the nature of the processing that it carries out.

2. Investigating the contribution of both intrinsic connections and cortical inputs to the hippocampal processing of information (collaborator Dr Stefano Panzeri)

3. Determining how these hippocampal regions and their related neural circuitry are involved in arousal (collaborator Dr Hugh Piggins).

4. Investigating the relationship between the hippocampal formation and the amygdala, with particular reference to normal and pathological states such as epilepsy (collaborator Dr Jon Turner)

5. Electrophysiological and behavioural approaches to investigate how hippocampal circuits become damaged in cognitively impaired animals by using an transgenic model of Alzheimer’s Disease (collaborator Dr Stuart Allan).

6. Determining the contribution of somatosensory information from the rat whisker system to navigation and the hippocampal representation of space (collaborator Dr Rasmus Petersen)

These projects are funded by the BBSRC and The Royal Society

Key words: subiculum, hippocampus, entorhinal cortex, presubiculum, Alzheimer's Disease, whisker, barrel cortex, amygdala, orexin


Research and projects

No current projects are available for public display