Cognition includes processes such as learning, memory, attention, flexible thinking and self-control. Neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric disease has a devastating impact on all of these components, striking at the heart of what it means to be human.
We are working on understanding the brain mechanisms underlying cognition in the healthy brain and how these are affected by conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia. We also look at the role that lifestyle factors including diet and exercise can play in improving or disrupting cognition. Ultimately, our goal is to develop more specific treatment strategies for brain disorders, based on precise analysis of the individual symptoms and what is going on in the brain that produces them.
We address our research questions by using cutting-edge methods to observe and manipulate the brain in mice while they engage with tests of cognition that are very close to or identical to those used in humans. This is most often in a touchscreen-based system where the mice interact with images on the screen by pressing them with their nose, and where they get strawberry milkshake when they get the answer correct.