A multi-million-pound research centre aimed at understanding how the human brain stores information is officially launched at the University of Bristol this week. One focus of the Centre's work is the molecular basis of learning and memory. The work is also crucial to the understanding of epilepsy, dementia and schizophrenia as well as certain drug addictions.
The MRC Centre for Synaptic Plasticity is a joint venture between the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the University. It is based principally in the University's School of Medical Sciences, which contains one of the largest neuroscience communities in Europe.
The MRC has invested approximately £10 million in the work of the Centre's researchers over the past two-and-a-half years, which represents a variety of interdisciplinary programmes for specific projects which will run over the next few years. Now most of the scientists involved will be able to work together in state-of-the-art laboratories funded by the Wellcome Trust and the University itself. The new Centre will also include staff from the Bristol Royal Infirmary and Frenchay Hospital.
Professor Graham Collingridge FRS, Director of the Centre, said:
"Synaptic plasticity is the major process that enables the brain to store information. It's one of the fundamental biological mechanisms that determines who we are.
"Understanding this mechanism is essential to our understanding of many conditions from depression to Alzheimer's and from strokes to jet lag."