Insights into the workings of the brain revealed in University of Leicester lectures

Posted by ap507 at Jun 19, 2017 12:08 PM |
Research from two PhD graduates to be presented at Doctoral Inaugural Lectures on 21 June

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 19 June 2017

Two outstanding PhD graduates from the University of Leicester return this week to present their research to a public audience.

The College of Medicine, Biological Sciences and Psychology is holding two Doctoral Inaugural Lectures on Wednesday the 21 June from 5pm in the Centre for Medicine Building Lecture Theatre.

These lectures, hosted by the Graduate School, see the return of two recent PhD graduates to the University to deliver public lectures on the topic of their research.

The first lecture will be given by Dr Mike Jay who completed his PhD at the Department of Neuroscience, Behaviour and Psychology and he will talk on the subject ‘Characterisation and the role of dopaminergic neurons during movement’.

Dopamine is a chemical secreted within the nervous system by cells known as neurons. This small molecule plays key modulatory roles in a number of behavioural processes including motivation, reward behaviour and locomotion. Within the brain, there are several populations of dopamine-producing neurons and dysfunction or loss of these cells has been implicated in an array of common neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease.

In his lecture, Mike will discuss the results of his studies examining the activity of the dopaminergic neurons which innervate the spinal cord. His findings offer new insights into the activity patterns exhibited by these cells and the role they play in modulating locomotor activity.

The second lecture will be on ‘Causes of brain injury associated with cardiac interventions’ and will be given by Dr Nikil Patel who graduated with his PhD from the Department of Cardiovascular Sciences in 2015.

A major cause of brain injury following cardiac surgery is thought to be due to emboli (solid particles or air bubbles) entering the circulation, which may become lodged in the blood vessels to the brain causing tissue damage and stroke. Numerous amount of air bubbles enter the cerebral circulation during cardiac surgery, but whether these are harmful to the brain and impact adversely on cognition remains subject of speculation.

MRI was used to characterise new and pre-existing brain lesions in patients undergoing cardiac surgery, and to test whether the accumulation of new lesions adversely affects cognition. The focus of this study was to investigate the relationship between emboli entering the brain during cardiac surgery, and subsequent injury to the brain detected using MRI and neuropsychological testing.

Both lectures will be held on Wednesday 21 June, 5pm – 6pm, in the Centre for Medicine Building Lecture Theatre. The lectures are free and open to the public, and will be followed by a reception

All University staff and students and members of the public are invited to attend the Doctoral Inaugural Lectures. Entry is free, but seats must be booked in advance.  You can book your seats here:


Notes to editors:

For more information contact Daniel Jeal on email

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