Dr Tim Viney’s research involves investigating how different kinds of brain cells contribute to the encoding and recall of memories, and how networks of nerve cells enable us to navigate in different environments. His research group records the electrical activity of nerve cells in awake mice, then matches these recordings to neurochemical profiles and their connections to other nerve cells. He also investigates early pathological changes that occur in the ageing human brain, which can cause memory loss – a sign of Alzheimer’s disease. Dr Viney’s goal is to define the types of brain cells that provide us with the ability to remember events and navigate in space, and identify the ones that are most vulnerable to pathology. This way, cell-type-specific drug targets can be developed in order to prevent the initial spread of pathological proteins that cause memory loss and neurodegeneration.
Dr Viney conducted his PhD at the Friedrich Miescher Institute in Switzerland. He defined several kinds of nerve cells in the mouse retina that contribute to both visual and non-visual functions, using a combination of two-photon laser targeted patch clamp recordings, viral tracing, and immunohistochemistry. Upon moving to Oxford, he initially investigated how inhibitory nerve cells affect the activity of ‘place cells’ in the hippocampus of rats – important for memory and navigation. After several projects on the hippocampus and on another brain area known as the basal forebrain, Dr Viney started to work on the thalamus, which connects the body and environment to the cerebral cortex. Parts of the thalamus are vital for memory functions and exhibit early vulnerability to neurodegenerative disease.
- Memory: navigation, episodic memory
- Neurodegenerative disease: Alzheimer’s disease, tauopathies
- Brain regions: cerebral cortex, hippocampus, thalamus, basal forebrain
- Neuroanatomy: nerve cells, glial cells, axons, dendrites
- Neuropharmacology: receptors, channels, neurotransmitters, neuropeptides, drugs
- Neurophysiology: oscillations, networks, action potentials, inhibition, sleep
- Techniques: microscopy, immunohistochemistry
Dr Tim Viney has experience of print media and presenting his research in video interviews.