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Healthy brain - memory and sleep

 

 

Memory

Storage of memory in a retrievable form is critical – for survival, and for our everyday well-being. Without memory storage we cannot achieve rewards, avoid punishment, execute skills or interact socially. Memory forms the basis of our personal identity and provides each of us with access to our own unique autobiography. Ageing or disease can disrupt memory and drastically impact quality of life, making learning and memory critical processes for us to understand. Learning and memory storage involve changes in how brain cells (neurons) connect with each other (synaptic plasticity).

Our research focuses on the fundamental elements of memory, investigating how molecular, cellular and circuit mechanisms support information storage and retrieval. Sensory experiences cause lasting changes in behavioural responses – we want to understand how this happens in healthy brains. Our research also provides novel insights into learning and memory in a range of developmental disorders, dementias and other conditions, such as amnesia or post-traumatic stress disorder.

Our key questions (memory):

  • What are the mechanisms underlying synaptic plasticity that support learning? How do these mechanisms change throughout life?
  • Which specific brain circuits are modified during different forms of learning and memory?
  • How does the brain maintain balance (homeostasis) within, and between, brain cells to create the healthy excitability needed for learning and to optimize memory storage capacity?
  • What is the role of sleep in memory consolidation?’

Storage of memory in a retrievable form is critical – for survival, and for our everyday well-being. Without memory storage we cannot achieve rewards, avoid punishment, execute skills or interact socially. Memory forms the basis of our personal identity and provides each of us with access to our own unique autobiography. Ageing or disease can disrupt memory and drastically impact quality of life, making learning and memory critical processes for us to understand.

Learning and memory storage involve changes in how brain cells (neurons) connect with each other (synaptic plasticity). Our research focuses on the fundamental elements of memory, investigating how molecular, cellular and circuit mechanisms support information storage and retrieval. Sensory experiences cause lasting changes in behavioural responses – we want to understand how this happens in healthy brains. Our work also provides novel insights into learning and memory in a range of developmental disorders, dementias and other conditions, such as amnesia or post-traumatic stress disorder.

Our key questions:

  • What are the mechanisms underlying synaptic plasticity that support learning? How do these mechanisms change throughout life?
  • Which specific brain circuits are modified during different forms of learning and memory?
  • How does the brain maintain balance within, and between, brain cells to create the healthy excitability needed for learning and to optimize memory storage capacity?
  • What is the role of sleep in memory consolidation?’

Sleep

We spend around one third of our lives asleep, yet why we sleep and how we sleep remain exciting areas of research. Lack of good quality sleep increases risks in many areas – from cardiovascular disease to dementia and depression, and we want to understand the underlying mechanisms. Our preclinical research investigates the sleep-wake cycle and how changes in lifestyle or brain activity can disturb sleep.

In the clinic we are unravelling the secrets of sleep, the way the brain changes during different phases of sleep and how resolving sleep disorders can change our brains. We research sleep disorders such as narcolepsy and nocturnal seizures and look for solutions to help all those affected.

Our key questions (sleep):

  • Why do we sleep?
  • How do we sleep?
  • What is the link between sleep disruption and neurodegeneration?
  • Can sleep hygiene contribute to a healthy lifespan?

Click people profiles to discover their research:

Memory


Sleep


Our research

Our research

Leading the world in understanding brain function and finding new treatments for patients

What is neuroscience?

What is neuroscience?

Neuroscience is the study of the nervous system, from structure to function, in health and disease

Discover more about Neuroscience at King’s

Centres

Centres

Specialist neuroscience centres, world-leading in understanding the brain at all stages of life

Resources

Resources

World-class neuroscience facilities, including MRI, neuroimaging equipment, and King's Brain Bank

PhD

PhD

Join a lively community of PhD students, learning from world-leading neuroscience researchers

News and events

Suffrage science

7 September 2020

The Suffrage Science Awards

The Suffrage Science awards, curated by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences, celebrate…