Neural basis of pattern separation in the rat hippocampus

Neural basis of pattern separation in the rat hippocampus

Website Cognitive and Systems Neuroscience lab, Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences, University of Amsterdam

Background Research project
The ability to discriminate between similar memory representations is thought to be a critical function of the hippocampus (HC) via a pattern separation (PS) process. In PS, cortex input of similar episodes is transformed into distinct neural representations and is thought to be a key mechanism to prevent memory interference of similar experiences. PS function has been attributed to the dentate gyrus (DG), where lesion studies have shown that DG but not in CA3 and CA1 lead to impaired discrimination ability of similar object features and spatial configurations. Nevertheless, the neural basis of hippocampal PS remains unclear. The main goal of this research project is to understand what neural mechanisms underlie PS in the HC circuit and how more upstream, candidate areas such as the perirhinal (PRH) cortex contribute to PS function. To assess PS, we will record neural activity of large neuronal populations in the HC and PRH using multi-area tetrode recordings and silence DG activity with DREADDs in rats performing a validated location discrimination (LD) task.

The student’s role in the project
In the spring of 2021, we plan to start a new trajectory that will involve 1) behavioural training of rats, 2) DREADD virus injection surgery, 3) hyperdrive implantation surgery and 4) recording and DREADD-silencing of our target structures while animals perform the LD task. We are looking for a highly motivated master student that will be in charge of daily behavioral training, assist during virus injection surgeries, attend the hyperdrive implantation surgeries, perform histology to inspect virus expression post-mortem, and carry out basic analyses of behavioral data with MATLAB. In short, the student will learn a wide variety of relevant experimental skills.

Type of project: behavioral training of rats, in vivo multi-area electrophysiology, DREADD-based
chemogenetic intervention, basic data analysis of behavioural data.
Duration: 6 – 9 months full time
Start date: from January 2021
Supervisor: Judith Lim (PhD Candidate)
Institute: Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences, University of Amsterdam
Lab: Cognitive and Systems Neuroscience

If you would like to apply, please send the following documents to Judith Lim (
– Short motivation
– CV
– List of your past study courses and grades

To apply for this job email your details to