Craig Group

Information processing in the brain is critically dependent upon the precise synchronisation of ensembles of neurons; GABAergic inhibitory interneurons have a critical role in co-ordinating this synchrony, both within local networks and across the relatively long distances that separate different regions. Our research group studies the neural circuitry of the brain's extended memory and decision-making circuit, which comprises cortical regions such as prefrontal, retrosplenial and entorhinal cortices, as well as hippocampus and subiculum. At the heart of this circuit lies midline thalamic nuclei such as nucleus reuniens and the anterior thalamic nuclei (ATN). A schematic of this circuit is shown below. 

Extended memory & decision-making circuit

Our research focuses both on the neural circuitry within each area, and how these regions coordinate their activity across long distances. We study the anatomical connectivity within this circuit using viral tracing methods, and the functional connectivity from the synapse (using patch-clamp electrophysiology) through to the network level (oscillations using in vivo and slice electrophysiology) as well as behavioural consequences of manipulating this circuit. We interrogate this circuit using the usual smorgasbord of modern genetic methods (optogenetics, chemogenetics, monosynaptic retrograde tracing, etc). We are interested in both healthy physiological conditions as well as pathological changes that occur in several animal models of dementia and psychiatric disorders.

As well as studying neural connectivity, we are also very interested in brain-immune interactions to determine how neuroinflammation can interact with disease models and genetic risks to exacerbate vulnerability to circuit disruption via altered function of neurons, astrocytes and microglia. Chemokines and cytokines that mediate inflammation also play a pivotal role in patterning the nervous system during the earliest stages of embryonic development, so one of our key interests is in studying how early life neuroinflammation can alter the formation and function of neural circuitry.