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 Lisa Kinnavane

Lisa Kinnavane

School of Psychology

Tower Building, 70 Park Place, Cardiff, CF10 3AT


Research summary

The overall aim of my PhD projects is to understand the contributions  of specific neural circuits to different aspects of memory. I will focus on two  different forms of learning; spatial memory and recognition memory. Spatial  memory will be examined given its links to hippocampal and anterior thalamic  (but not perirhinal cortex) function. Object recognition memory will be  examined given its consistent links to perirhinal cortex (but typically not  hippocampal or anterior thalamic) function. I will employ different behavioural  assays for different elements within spatial learning and recognition memory. The  principal aim of the project is, therefore, to examine the functional  importance of anatomically specified connections linking different brain  sites.


Undergraduate education

2006 – 2010 National University  of Ireland, Galway
1:1 BSc (Hons) Biomedical Science  (Anatomy)

Postgraduate education

October 2011 – Present  
PhD in Integrative Neuroscience


September 2010 – August 2011 Demonstrator in Anatomy, National University of Ireland, Galway,       Ireland

June – August 2010 Research       assistant in Anatomy, National       University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland

June – August 2009 Summer       research assistant and prosector in Anatomy, National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland

Honours and awards

Awards/external committees

Awarded the title of National  University of Ireland, Galway University Scholar in 2007, 2008 and 2009.









Research topics and related papers

Any comprehensive analysis of the neural basis of memory must involve  an understanding of the networks that support specific forms of learning.  To take the example of spatial learning,  while attention has often focused on the interactions of the hippocampus with  other medial temporal lobe structures, it is clear that there are also key  interconnections with structures in the medial diencephalon (e.g. anterior  thalamus, mammillary bodies) and prefrontal cortex. Because these connections  share common pathways, via the fornix, and arise from the same regions (e.g.  subiculum) it is very difficult to tease apart the contributions of the various  connections.  For recognition memory, a persistent  problem has come from trying to understand the significance of the complex  interconnections of the perirhinal cortex within the medial temporal lobe  (e.g., Aggleton, 2012; Staresina et al., 2012).   As highlighted in the title of a review paper (Aggleton & Brown,  2006), the various interactions within the temporal lobe appear closely  intermingled, often making it extremely difficult to isolate one system from  the other. It is this problem that has, for example, bedevilled attempts to  understand the functional relationships between the perirhinal cortex and  hippocampus, despite their interconnectivity.   In particular, it remains uncertain whether within the medial temporal  lobe there are parallel routes for familiarity and recollective based memory or  whether these two forms of information rely on the same neuronal interactions.


Wellcome Trust Studentship

Research group


Research collaborators

Prof. John Aggleton
Dr. Nick Wright
Dr. Cristian Olarte Sanchez
Eman Amin


Past projects