Developmental rodent models for the study of cognitive disorders.

The Langston lab aims to characterise the ontogeny of different types of learning and memory in laboratory rodents, with a particular emphasis on episodic memory which is a key diagnostic in many human cognitive disorders. In humans, learning occurs over an extended time period with different types of memory capability emerging at different stages of development. We have discovered that this is mirrored in rodents. Our current projects aim to examine more closely the exact time points at which memory subtypes develop; the task parameters that this depends on; the effects of individual experience and the different brain regions involved. Students working on this research area have the potential to learn animal handling & husbandry techniques, behavioural testing, immediate early gene imaging and in vivo electrophysiology; among others. The importance of this research area is twofold- firstly to create accurate behavioural in vivo models of developmental disorders and secondly to investigate the basic mechanisms of memory in a unique model system: the developing rat as a mirror of age-related cognitive disorders. Understanding how the building blocks of the brain create memories may give us crucial insights into how those building blocks crumble in age and neurodegenerative disease.

Dr Ros Langston
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