The Cortex Club connects researchers at the University of Oxford with world-leading neuroscientists through a unique educational forum dealing with cutting-edge topics and significant challenges in neuroscience. Our events range from small intense debates with up-and-coming scientists to large discussion sessions led by internationally prominent speakers, followed by the opportunity to ask them questions over drinks.

Seminar: Prof Ann-Shyn Chiang

The Dynamic Memory Connectome

Thursday 18 April, 4pm at the Large Lecture Theatre, Le Gros Clark Building, Oxford


The Cortex Club proudly presents Prof Ann-Shyn Chiang from the National Tsing Hua University, who will be talking to us about his novel multi-scale imaging approach to map the entire Drosophila brain. Please join us on April 14th at the Large Lecture Theatre, located in the Le Gros Clark Building of the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics.


Prof. Ann-Shyn Chiang has kindly agreed to meet students and staff individually. If you would like to arrange a meeting please contact Tai-Ying Lee at tai-ying.lee [at]




Understanding information flows and their changes in the brain requires a comprehensive map of neural structures at all levels, similar to those of Google Earth for continents, countries, cities and streets. By integrating multiscale imaging technologies, I propose a practical approach aiming for mapping individual neurons, cellular organelles, synapses and single molecules in the entire Drosophila brain. I will discuss how the generated connectome map help us to classify cell types, predict information flow, and manipulate target neurons that orchestrate complex behaviours. Our long-term goal is to construct the Drosophila engram and understand how learning and memory change the decision.



Workshop: Two-Photon Microscopy

Technical workshop on the function and utility of two-photon microscopy in neuroscience

Tuesday 5 February, Tuesday – 3pm at the OCGF Seminar Room, DPAG/Sherrington Bldg

The Cortex Club is excited to host a workshop on Two-Photon Imaging in Neuroscience, led by Dr Adam Packer, Sir Henry Dale Fellow at DPAG, Oxford.

If you have ever wondered how two-photon imaging works, this introductory workshop is for you! Please join us on February 5th at the OCGF Seminar Room, located in the Sherrington Building of the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics.


Register is required – please sign at at:

Attendants and everyone else with an interest in the subject are also invited to join us at the pub after the workshop.  For more information contact tai-ying.lee [at]



Optical approaches are revolutionising the way experiments are performed in systems neuroscience. This workshop will focus on two-photon microscopy, explaining how it works and why it is useful. Starting with basic optical principles, we will work our way up to advanced approaches. The goal of the workshop is to develop an intuition for the basic operating principles of these microscopes and how they can be used to record and manipulate neural activity in vivo. This workshop is geared towards those interested in using this approach in their work as well as current users of two-photon microscopy that wish to understand more deeply how the microscope works. Topics covered include:
  1. How do lenses work
  2. Fluorescence and two-photon excitation
  3. How does a two-photon microscope work
  4. Two-photon optogenetics and multi-cell stimulation with spatial light modulators


Seminar: Prof Claus Hilgetag

An architectonic type principle integrates cerebral cortical architecture and connectivity

Friday 25 January, 1pm at the Large Lecture Theatre, Sherrington Building, Oxford


The Cortex Club is excited to presents Prof Claus Hilgetag from the Institute of Computational Neuroscience, UKE Hamburg, who will be talking to us about his work on cortico-cortical connections to derive general principles of neuronal wiring in the cortex. Please join us on January April 14th at the Large Lecture Theatre, located in the Sherrington Building of the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics.

We are hosting a Q&A session after the talk from 2.00 to 3.00 in the Sherrington Library. We warmly invite in particular students and postdocs to join us. Sandwiches provided. Please sign up at at:




The connections that link neurons within as well as between cerebral cortical areas form a multi-scale structural network for communication in the brain. Which principles underlie the organisation of this complex network? We addressed this question by systematically investigating the relation of essential features of cortico-cortical connections, such as their presence or absence as well as patterns of laminar projection origins and terminations, to fundamental structural parameters of cortical areas, such as their distance, similarity in cortical cytoarchitecture as defined by cortical lamination or neuronal density, and similarity in further macroscopic and microscopic morphological features. These systematic analyses demonstrate the presence of an architectural type
principle. Across different species (mouse, cat, macaque monkey and human) and different cortices, the essential features of cortico-cortical connections vary consistently and strongly with the cytoarchitectonic similarity of cortical areas. By contrast, such relations were not found as consistently in multivariate analyses for distance, similarity
of cortical thickness or cellular morphological features. The presence of the architectonic type principle across mammalian brains allows direct cross-species predictions of the existence and laminar patterns of projections, including for the human brain, where such data are not directly available experimentally. Moreover, intrinsic brain architecture as characterised by architectural type and neural density also accounts for cellular neuronal features, such as cell size or shape. Thus, these findings illuminate a general principle of neural wiring and integrate cortical connectivity and architecture across scales of organisation, with implications for models of cortical physiology as well as developmental mechanisms.


Seminar: Prof Gero Miesenboeck

The Somnostat: Neuronal Machinery for Balancing Sleep Need and Sleep

Thursday 17 January, 4.15pm at the Large Lecture Theatre, Le Gros Clark Building, Oxford



The Cortex Club is delighted to start this year’s seminar series with Prof Gero Miesenboeck, Waynflete Professor at the CNCB Oxford, who will be talking to us about his research on the need for sleep. Please join us on January 17th at the Large Lecture Theatre, located in the Le Gros Clark Building of the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics.


If you would like to join us at the pub after the talk, please sign up at .



Sleep is vital and universal, but its biological function remains unknown. We seek to understand why we need to sleep by studying how the brain responds to sleep loss. Our studies in Drosophila have pinpointed neurons whose sleep-inducing activity switches on as sleep deficits accrue, revealed how this activity switch works, and furnished a molecular interpretation of sleep pressure, its accumulation, and its discharge.

Seminar: Giulio Tononi

Sleep: A Window on ConsciousnessCentre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour at the University of Oxford

Tuesday 11 December, 12pm at the Oxford Martin School, Old Indian Institute, Oxford


The Cortex Club is delighted to co-host, together with the CNCB, Prof Giulio Tononi from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who will be talking to us about his research on the role of sleep on consciousness. Please join us on December 11th at the Oxford Martin School, located in the Old Indian Institute at 34 Broad Street, Oxford.


For further information please contact Fiona Woods (fiona.woods – at –




How does consciousness come about, and how can the brain create a world even when it is disconnected from the environment? Consciousness never fades when we are awake. However, when awakened from sleep, we sometimes recall dreams and sometimes recall no experiences. Traditionally, dreaming has been identified with rapid eye-movement (REM) sleep, characterized by wake-like, globally ‘activated’, high-frequency EEG activity. However, dreaming also occurs in non-REM (NREM) sleep, characterized by prominent low-frequency activity. Recent work using no-task, within-state paradigms has identified a ‘posterior hot zone’ where the EEG must be activated for subjects to experience dreams. Localized, content-specific activations occur depending on whether one dreams of faces, places, movement, and speech. These findings highlight the likely neural substrate of our own experiences and suggest some of the necessary and sufficient conditions for consciousness.