Using optogenetics to understand memory retrieval in models relevant to Alzheimer’s disease

Using optogenetics to understand memory retrieval in models relevant to Alzheimer’s disease

Project Code: 

Memory dysfunction is a hallmark in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) that significantly affects the daily life in people living with AD. It remains debated whether memory deficits reflect an inability to store the information or an inability to retrieve information that is previously stored. It is important to clarify which memory process is affected in AD to provide precise targets for improving cognitive functions. Recent evidence from optogenetic studies suggest that directly and selectively stimulating memory engram cells during learning can lead to recovery of memory in AD mouse models. This has major implications for the future treatment of memory dysfunction in AD.  This PhD project aims to verify if stimulated memory retrieval is functionally similar to naturally recalled memory. It will determine whether optogenetics and pharmacological techniques aid memory retrieval in an amyloid precursor protein (APP) knock-in model. This project will combine behavioural paradigms of learning and memory, genetics, pharmacology, and microbiology. The key research skills involved are: behavioural training, cranial surgery, cryosectioning, in situ hybridisation, immunohistochemistry, confocal microscopy, mechanical tool assembling, experimental design, and statistical analyses. 

The student will join a lab studying the cellular and receptor mechanisms in learning and memory and a multidisciplinary centre that studies the causes, consequences and treatment of major brain disorders including dementia. The student will be integrated in the research communities in Edinburgh Neuroscience and Dementia Research in the University of Edinburgh.

Applicants are expected to have a good honours degree in Biomedical Sciences, Neuroscience, Pharmacology, Psychology or related disciplines at UK level of 2.1 or above (or the equivalent from non-UK universities). A Master’s degree in these disciplines and/or Home Office PIL holders will be an advantage.

This scholarship is funded by Alzheimer’s Research UK and Masonic Charitable Foundation. It will begin in September 2019 for 3 years. It will cover stipend, tuition fees at UK/EU rate, consumables and travel costs to attend the annual ARUK conferences. 

Apply via the EdNeuro.PhD gateway. For further enquiry, please contact

Additional Project Info 
This a re-advertised PhD opportunity. Previous applicants need not apply.
Primary Host Research Centre 
Funding Status of this Project 
Deadline for Application 
Sunday, 30 June, 2019
Research Area(s) 
Neuronal networks