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Development of neural circuits in the prefrontal cortex

Project description

Mapping brain architecture

The prefrontal cortex (PFC), which lies towards the front of the brain, is responsible for working memory, allowing us to store and process information across time. Scientists of the EU-funded PFCmap project are working to understand how PFC circuits sustain neural activity across the delay period, when information is stored in memory. Using optogenetic methods, they will determine the architecture of these neural circuits and how they change during development. Given the implication of PFC in cognitive behaviour and numerous neurodevelopmental psychiatric disorders, the results of the project will offer mechanistic insight into PFC function in health and disease.


The prefrontal cortex (PFC) is important for a wide range of cognitive behaviours and is impacted in numerous neuropsychiatric disorders. The PFC is thought to function as a key buffer for working memory, allowing us to store and manipulate information across time. The PFC is therefore critical to our ability to link past and future events. To do this the circuitry of the PFC must sustain task relevant neural activity across the delay period, when information is stored in memory. This process is thought to occur through recurrent networks in the superficial layers of the PFC, however the organization of these circuits remains poorly understood. This proposal will apply cutting edge optogenetic methods to produce dense, single-cell connectivity maps to elucidate the circuit architecture of the mouse PFC, providing insight into the circuit mechanisms that support mnemonic coding. It will also explore the development of this circuit, to better understand how refinement of connectivity gives rise to adolescent enhancement in PFC dependent cognition. These findings will also test key computational predictions into the mechanisms that support delay period activity. They will therefore be of broad interest to cellular, systems, computational and cognitive neuroscientists.


Net EU contribution
€ 212 933,76
Beacon house queens road
BS8 1QU Bristol
United Kingdom

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South West (England) Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Bristol/Bath area Bristol, City of
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00