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Cells & behaviour

Cells & behaviour

CBU Landing 34

The Cells and Behaviour Unit investigates the neurobiological mechanisms governing mood and cognition in health & disease using fundamental and translational research.

Our Mission is to uncover fundamental mechanisms of mood and cognitive processes, as well as to reveal the biological basis of psychiatric disorders to identify and validate new intervention targets.


We study how environmental factors (e.g. stress, inflammation, light, diet, ageing, hormones, novelty) affect plasticity in the brain and interact with genes to modulate behaviour. The CBU specializes in covering the major aspects of brain plasticity across multiple scales: macroscale (Vernon), cellular (Thuret, Delogu), circuit (Delogu, Cooke, Vernon) and synaptic (Giese, Cooke, Srivastava).

The CBU is concerned how plasticity impacts some of the most important fundamental cognitive and emotional processes such as: learning & memory, ranging from habituation through to episodic memory (Cooke, Giese, Thuret) and modulation of cortical excitability (Delogu, Cooke). We aim to translate these mechanisms as well as clinical and genetic findings into a greater understanding of the neurobiology underpinning psychiatric disorders such as Depression (Thuret, Delogu), Autism spectrum disorders (Srivastava, Vernon, Cooke), Schizophrenia (Vernon, Srivastava), Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (Giese) and Sleep disorders (Delogu).

The CBU is an international collaborative scientific unit conducting fundamental and translational research using a wide range of state of the art technology and disease modelling tools such as rodent in utero gene delivery, mouse molecular genetics and viral manipulations, in vivo electrophysiology, chemo- and opto-genetics, super-resolution microscopy, patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cells and behavioural studies.

The CBU is home of six Principal Investigators and over 60 staff and research students. We generated over £10 million in grant income in the last five years, primarily through the UK Research Councils, the UK National Institute for Health Research, the EU commission, Industry collaborative funded projects and private donors. The CBU has published over 250 research articles and 80% our articles are in the top 1% to 10% for citation benchmarking illustrating the high quality and impact of our work.

The CBU Research Overview booklet is available to download here.


Research groups

Adult neurogenesis and mental health
Principal investigator: Sandrine Thuret
Experience-Dependent Plasticity
Principal Investigator: Sam Cooke

Experimental neuroimaging and mental health
Principal investigator: Anthony Vernon

Memory mechanisms in health and disease
Principal investigator: Peter Giese

Neural stem cells
Principal investigator: Jack Price

Neuronal circuitry and neurodevelopmental disease
Principal investigator: Deepak Srivastava

Pediatric storage disorders 
Principal investigator: Jon Cooper. Jon Cooper is now based at the Los Angeles BioMedical research Institute (LA BioMed), which he joined in August 2016.

Thalamic and brainstem inhibition in normal and altered states of function
Principal investigator: Alessio Delogu

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