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Research

Scientific mission

The overall scientific mission of the Behavioural and Clinical Neuroscience Institute (BCNI) is to delineate key neurocognitive constructs across species and then use them to understand a broad range of mental health and neurodegenerative disorders - with the intention of supporting development of new drug treatments.

In the current period (2010 to 2015), we will foster and enrich the strong inter-disciplinary research culture of the BCNI; we will build on our underpinning capabilities in relation to PET, animal neurophysiology and MRI, computational neurobiology and neurocognitive genetics; we will consolidate our postgraduate educational programme; and we will work effectively and innovatively with partners in industry.

Key themes that define the work of the BCNI in the current period (2010 to 2015)

Translation – of cognitive neuroscientific concepts both across species, and from healthy to disordered groups – will continue to be a key driving theme, supported by core animal research and neuroimaging infrastructure.

Traits – meaning the delineation of neurocognitive traits that may cut across traditional diagnostic boundaries in neuropsychiatry – e.g., the trait of impulsivity which transcends both addiction and ADHD - and the definition of intermediate endophenotypes – e.g. brain functional and cognitive markers mediating heritable risk for neuropsychiatric disorders - which may facilitate the search for genetic factors.

Treatments – proactively developing methodology and expertise for innovative preclinical and experimental medicine studies of tool compounds; working in partnership with industry for neurocognitive characterization of specific drug targets and early-stage new drug development

Training – increasing the scope and scale of postgraduate training options by creating an expanded 3 year PhD programme in translational neuroscience for up to 9 BCNI-affiliated PhD students and by setting up a 1 year MPhil course also available as a stand-alone option for fee-paying students.

The overall intention in the current period will be to maximize the scientific and clinical value of the BCNI and to become established as one of the internationally leading centres for translating behavioural and cognitive neuroscience so as to have therapeutic impact on many common and important human brain and mental health disorders.