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.



Marianne Fillenz Annual Lecture + Q&A: Prof David Bannerman

Attention: Hippocampal long-term potentiation (LTP) might be important after all!

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


This year’s Marianne Fillenz Lecture will be given by Prof David Bannerman, Head of the Behavioural Neuroscience Unit, Oxford, who will be talking to us about his work on hippocampal long-term potentiation. Please join us on March 1st at the Large Lecture Theatre, located in the Sherrington Building of the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics.

The Cortex Club is delighted to host a Q&A session with Prof Bannerman after the talk from 2.00 to 3.00 to which students and staff are warmly invited.




Several lines of evidence, including recent GWAS, have suggested that schizophrenia may be a disorder of impaired synaptic plasticity, particularly in the hippocampus. Traditionally, hippocampal synaptic plasticity (e.g. long-term potentiation) has been thought to subserve the formation of associative memories. Yet schizophrenic subjects are often considered to be more, rather than less, likely to form associations, which is thought to underlie the generation of their false beliefs and delusions. I will present data showing that ablating key glutamate receptor subunits involved in hippocampal synaptic plasticity (and implicated in schizophrenia) leads to deficits in a form of non-associative short-term memory that underlies the habituation of attention. This generates aberrant salience, hyperdopaminergic responses and increased theta coherence, and an increased (rather than decreased) propensity to form associations, reminiscent of what is seen in schizophrenic patients. The implications of these results for understanding synaptic homeostasis during sleep will also be discussed.

Symposium: Decision-Making across Different Species and Research Approaches


Decision-Making Symposium


The Cortex Club is delighted to announce our Hilary Term Symposium, organised in collaboration with Sainsbury Wellcome Centre, London, and support from the British Neuroscience Association.

Decision-making across different species and research approaches.
Tuesday 26th February
9:00 – 17:00 at the Sherrington Library
Sherrington Building, Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics, Oxford.


Speakers include:
Dr Helen Barron, University of Oxford
Dr Tiago Branco, Sainsbury Wellcome Centre, London
Dr Laurence Hunt, University of Oxford
Prof. Scott Waddell, University of Oxford
Prof. Linda WilbrechtUniversity of California, Berkeley


alongside student talks and panel discussion.


Registration is required. Please register at:


Places are available for a formal dinner with the speakers at Christ Church College. Places are limited and will be balloted (priority for BNA members)

Seminar: Dr Kerry Walker

Neural processes for experiencing a musical note

Friday 21 February, 4pm at the Sherrington Library, Sherrington Building, Oxford



The Cortex Club is excited to presents ECR fellow Kerry Walker from DPAG, Oxford,  who will be talking to us about her work on the perception of pitch. Please join us on February 21st at the Sherrington Library, located in the Sherrington Building of the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics.


Please also join us for drinks after the talk.





The early auditory system decomposes incoming sounds into a collection of sine waves with different frequencies. But we would not describe our everyday experience of hearing sound as one of “perceiving frequencies”. Rather, we hear complex features such as a familiar voice or a musical melody. My research group examines how the auditory cortex integrates the frequency and timing components of sounds into more behaviourally relevant features, such as “pitch”. Pitch is our perception of the tonal quality of sounds that allows us to experience musical melody. We are using a combination of electrophysiological, behavioural and 2-photon calcium imaging techniques in ferrets to better understand how populations of auditory cortical neurons encode a sound’s pitch. Our results have provided insights into the mechanisms used by individual neurons and neural populations to produce our perception of pitch across a wide range of complex sounds. This work helps explain how we can recognize a familiar tune on a violin or piano.

Q&A: Associate Prof Theresa Burt De Perera

Navigating in a three-dimensional world

Friday 15 February, 1pm at the Large Lecture Theatre, Sherrington Building, Oxford


The Cortex Club is excited to presents Associate Prof Teresa Burt De Perera from the Zoology Department, Oxford, who, as part of the DPAG Head of the Department seminar series,  will be talking to us about her work on how animals deal with navigation in a three-dimensional world. Please join us on February 15th 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 to which students and staff are warmly invited. Please sign up at:




The ability to navigate efficiently is fundamental to animals’ survival and success; enabling them to find mates, avoid predators and find their way home. To orient around their local environment, animals must recognise their own position with respect to a goal. This task can be achieved through a representation of space in their brain, built upon learning and remembering environmental features that are inputted through multiple sensory systems. A substantial research effort has sought to understand how animals navigate, but this has been focused on horizontal movement, despite the real world being three-dimensional. Indeed, most animals have some kind of vertical component to their movements, and there are both quantitative and qualitative reasons why navigating through environments with a vertical axis might be different to navigating purely in 2D. This is pushed to the extreme in volumetric environments, such as those inhabited by many fish. By using experimental and theoretical approaches, we consider how pelagic and benthic fish deal with 3D navigation; from the sensory input, to what information is learned and remembered. This not only allows us to unpick the mechanisms that underpin this important behaviour, but can also inform us about the processes behind learning and memory themselves.