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Behavioural roles for synaptic integration

Final Activity Report Summary - SYNINTMEMORY (Behavioural roles for synaptic integration)

Mental health is of great importance to individuals and societies. Yet, we lack a basic understanding of the biological basis for most mental functions and as a result it is difficult to adopt rational strategies to improve mental health. The project funded by this Marie Curie Re-integration award addresses the biological mechanisms of episodic memory, the basic mental process through which facts and events are stored and retrieved.

The award has enabled the principal investigator to set up an independent research group following return to Europe after carrying out postdoctoral training in the United States. The project focuses on development of new tools and behavioural methods for investigation of computations carried out by nerve cells during storage and retrieval of memories. The major achievements are in three areas:

1. We have established new behavioural tasks for evaluation in mice of cognitive processes that rely on memory.
2. We have found evidence for deficits in the performance of mice with forebrain restricted deletion of the HCN1 gene, which encodes an ion channel important for neuronal responses to synaptic activation.
3. We have established techniques for local manipulation of HCN1 expression in vivo using viral vectors.

Advances made by the principle investigator during the project have been published in major international journals. The new tools and methodological approaches developed are likely to form the basis for considerable future work by the principal investigator's research group.