Seminar: Prof Tara Keck

Synaptic dynamics in mouse visual cortex following sensory deprivation

Friday 19 October – 1pm at the Large Lecture Theatre, DPAG/Sherrington Bldg


The Cortex Club proudly presents Tara Keck from University College London, who will be talking to us about her research on homeostatic synaptic plasticity. Please join us on October 19th at the Large Lecture Theatre of the Sherrington Building of the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics.


Prof. Tara Keck has kindly agreed to a Q&A lunch after her talk to which students and stuff are warmly invited. If you would like to join the free sandwich held at the Sherrington Library please sign up at https://


Homeostatic synaptic scaling is thought to occur cell-wide, but recent evidence suggests this form of stabilizing plasticity can be implemented more locally in reduced preparations. To investigate the spatial scales of plasticity in vivo, we used repeated two-photon imaging in mouse visual cortex after sensory deprivation to measure TNF-α dependent increases in spine size as a proxy for synaptic scaling in vivo in both excitatory and inhibitory neurons. We found that after sensory deprivation, increases in spine size are restricted to a subset of dendritic branches, which we confirmed using immunohistochemistry. We found that the dendritic branches that had individual spines that increased in size following deprivation, also underwent a decrease in spine density. Within a given dendritic branch, the degree of spine size increases is proportional to recent spine loss within that branch. Using computational simulations, we show that this compartmentalized form of synaptic scaling better retained the previously established input-output relationship in the cell, while restoring activity levels. We then investigated the relationship between new spines that form after this spine loss and strengthening and find that their spatial positioning facilitates strengthening of maintained synapses.

Seminar: Prof. Bence Ölveczky

Neural circuits underlying motor skill learning and execution

Tuesday 16 October, Tuesday – 4pm at the Sherrington Library, DPAG/Sherrington Bldg

The Cortex Club is excited to present Bence Ölveczky from Harvard University, who will be talking to us about his research on motor sequence learning. Please join us on October 16th at the Sherrington Library, located in the Sherrington Building of the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics.

Prof. Bence Ölveczky has kindly agreed to talk to students and staff individually. If you would like to arrange a meeting please contact Lukas Krone (lukas.krone -at-


I will introduce a motor skill learning paradigm that trains stereotyped complex motor sequences in rodents. By recording and manipulating neural activity in the basal ganglia, motor cortex and thalamus, we delineate the logic by which these circuits work together to promote the acquisition and control of task-specific motor sequences.


Behind the Scenes at Nature Neuroscience

Meet Nature Neuroscience Senior Editor Dr Leonie Welberg
Thursday 11 October – 4pm at the Large Lecture Theatre, Le Gros Clark Bldg 

The Cortex Club is delighted to host Dr Leonie Welberg, senior editor at Nature Neuroscience. Please join us at the Large Lecture Theatre in the Le Gros Clark Building, Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics, for an exciting opportunity to get a glimpse behind the scenes at Nature Neuroscience.

Dr Welberg also kindly offered to meet PhD students and postdocs individually to discuss the publishing industry and possible pathways that might lead to a career in publishing. If you would like to arrange a meeting for Friday 12 October, please contact Lukas Krone (lukas.krone -at-


Publishing research papers is an integral part of the scientific endeavour, but getting published in high-profile journals can be challenging and the publication process may seem mysterious. In this presentation Dr Leonie Welberg, senior editor at Nature Neuroscience, will explain the editorial process at Nature Neuroscience, from manuscript submission, initial editorial evaluation and peer-review to the journal’s decision to publish (or not) a given manuscript. She will also discuss aspects of publishing in high-profile science journals more broadly, and touch upon hot topics such as reproducibility, peer review models, open access and preprints.



Seminar: Dr Wei Song Ong

Cooperation: a social strategy?
Monday 1 October @ 3pm4pm (Room S010, Plant Sciences)

We are excited to start the new term with a seminar in collaboration with the Dept. of Experimental Psychology by Dr Wei Song Ong from the University of Pennsylvania. The talk will take place in Room S010 at the Plant Sciences Building. Please contact Paula Kaanders (paula.kaanders -at- if you would like to arrange an individual meeting with the speaker.

After the talk, there will be tea and cakes with the speaker and subsequently we will head to a pub for some food and drinks with the speaker. If you would like to join for the pub, please sign up here.

Real world decisions are usually made within a social context. Many of our actions are chosen considering vicarious feelings of another’s reward or pain. However, there are times where this desire for another’s wellbeing is in conflict with self-interest, resulting in the need to rely upon strategic reasoning about the beliefs, desires, and goals of others to make our decisions.

To take a closer look at the neural mechanisms underlying such processes, we utilize a iterated game which allows interactive play between two players. We demonstrated that the primates, both human and non-human rely upon recursive reasoning to carry out gameplay. In the non-human primates, we obtained spiking activity in two brain areas, the primate homolog of the temporal-parietal junction (TPJ) which is implicated in mentalizing, and the anterior cingulate gyrus, an area connected to empathy and vicarious experience. We found that the neurons in TPJ were able to signal cooperative action, an abstract concept that is independent of realized reward and motor action. This suggests that the capacity to reason strategically is deeply rooted in the social behavior of primates.