History of Self Experimentation in Neuroscience

Talk with Dr. Matthew J Lennon

Time and date: February 17, 2021 4 P.M. GMT

Self-Experimentation has shaped the history of neurological research. Isaac Newton pushed a needle in his eye socket to map out the visual distribution of the retina. Angelo Ruffini resected sensitive parts of his own hand to discover sensory nerve endings, including the Ruffini Corpuscle. Oliver Sacks experimented with morphine to better understand subjective drug effects on patients. Kevin Warwick pioneered prosthetics research when he inserted an electrode array into his median nerve allowing him to control a robotic arm more than 10,000 kilometres away. Phillip Kennedy had electrodes inserted into the speech centres of his own brain to try to decode the neural signals of human speech. Self-experimenters have many motivations; to avoid institutional roadblocks, to risk themselves rather than others, to gain subjective research insights otherwise inaccessible to volunteers, to prove a concept otherwise too risky to test. Self-experimentation has little to no legal or institutional regulation, which can complicate the recognition and publication of the work. In the future, self-experimentation will have a critical role to play in neurology research but the practice will need to balance both the zeal of the individual researcher and regulation necessary to institutional recognition. 


New imaging tools to decipher neural network dysfunction underlying cognitive deficits in epilepsy

Talk with Dr Peyman Golshani

Date: February 9, 2021 5 PM BST, pub chat at 6 PM BST

Abstract: Temporal lobe epilepsy is associated with memory deficits but the circuit mechanisms underlying these cognitive disabilities are not understood. We used electrophysiological recordings, open-source wire-free miniaturized microscopy and computational modelling to probe these deficits in a model of temporal lobe epilepsy. We find desynchronization of dentate gyrus interneurons with CA1 interneurons during theta oscillations and a loss of precision and stability of place fields. We also find that emergence of place cell dysfunction is delayed, providing a potential temporal window for treatments. Computation modelling shows that desynchronization rather than interneuron cell loss can drive place cell dysfunction. Future studies will uncover cell types driving these changes and transcriptional changes that may be driving dysfunction. I will also discuss new miniaturized microscopy tools, including wire-free, large-field-of view and miniaturized microscopes integrated with high channel count electrophysiology recordings.

Instructions on how to join the talk will be circulated tomorrow on this mailing list.

Information Storage in Memory Engrams

Talk with Prof Tomás Ryan

Time and date: January 22, 2021, 4 PM GMT

Prof. Tomás Ryan is working on mechanisms of memory storage and recall at the circuit level using novel technologies and multidisciplinary, collaborative approaches. His research integrates the theoretical models and techniques of experimental psychology, behavioural neuroscience, electrophysiology, and molecular genetics. The ultimate goal of this research is to reveal something of how the brain stores, modifies, and recalls our memories’ records of past experience, and how these properties are damaged or occluded in disease.

The details on how to join this talk will be sent out via the mailing list.