Nicole Pacchiarini

Research student, School of Psychology

Email:
pacchiarinin@cardiff.ac.uk
Location:
Tower Building, 70 Park Place, Cardiff, CF10 3AT

Research summary

My project tackles an important  question in an interdisciplinary context: How does experience with similar  stimuli increase the distinctiveness of their memories?  This question has  been investigated by behavioural scientists in the context of perceptual  learning, where animals given simple exposure to similar stimuli (e.g., two  textures) will later discriminate between them more readily than between two  novel stimuli. It has also been examined by neuroscientists studying the  rodent whisker system and experience-based changes in the barrel cortex.   This project attempts to understand the neural mechanisms of  perceptual learning in rodents using the whisker system. I will be  investigating this using methods which include two photon microscopy, optogenetic  imaging and behavioural paradigms.

Undergraduate education

2011 – 2014: BSc (Hons), Cognitive Neuroscience and  Psychology, University of Manchester

Postgraduate education

2014 – 2015: MSc, Clinical Neuroscience,  King’s College London
Thesis title: Mouse neurexin-1-α deletion and social  isolation causes anxiety-related behaviours but no impairment in cognition

Research interests

Research topics and related papers

The cerebral cortex is most highly developed in humans. It  is that part of the brain which gives us our distinctively human qualities. How  does the cortex process information and how does it store new information, in  other words, how does it remember? We are studying these questions in an area  of the brain that processes tactile information. We record neuronal activity  and measure the way sensory processing is modified by experience  (experience-dependent plasticity).

Funding

BBSRC  South West Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership

Research group

Neuroscience
Behavioural Neuroscience
Cognitive Neuroscience

Research collaborators

Professor  Rob Honey
Professor  Kevin Fox