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Matt Nolan graduated with a 1st class Honours degree in Physiology from the University of Birmingham and completed his PhD in Neuroscience at the University of Aberdeen. He recieved a Wellcome Trust Prize Travelling Fellowship to carry out his postdoctoral work with Eric Kandel at Columbia University in New York. He was recruited to a lectureship at the University of Edinburgh in 2006, was promoted to Reader in 2011 and was appointed Professor of Neural Circuits and Computation in 2014.

Research Interests

I am interested in the molecular and cellular mechanims that enable neural circuits to carry out computations, in particular computations important for learning and memory.

Research Groups

Centre for Integative Physiology

Patrick Wild Centre

Current Research Interests

Our current research is organised along three inter-related themes.

1. How are neural circuits in the hippocampus and entorhinal cortex organised? We use a combination of optogenetic, electrophysiological and molecular techinques to investigate circuit organisation. A particular current focus is the inter- and intra-layer organisation of the medial entorhinal cortex.

2. How do hippocampal-entorhinal circuits carry out computations? We use theoretical and computational methods to explore how experimentally determined circuit mechanisms carry out computations. Particular current interests are entorhinal mechanisms for generation of grid firing and hippocampal mechanisms for generation of theta sequences.

3. How do hippocapal-entorhinal computations contribute to behaviour? To test predictions of models for hippocampal-entorhinal computation we are combining molecuar tools developed through our circuit analysi experiments with novel behavioural strategied based on use of virtual reality to manipulate animal behaviour.

My research in a nutshell

The brain's extraordinary cognitive capabilities result from computations carried out by groups of neurons organised into circuits. Understanding how neural circuits implement computations is a major unsolved scientific problem. We address this using state-of-the-art optical, electrical and molecular technologies, with a particular focus on the neural computations that underlie learning and memory. Our research has implications for understanding normal cognitive function and for cognitive disorders including Alzheimer's and autism spectrum disorders.



I organise and teach on the Neural Circuits elective for the MSc by Research in Integrative Neuroscience.  I also contrbute to teaching the Cell Communication theme for the MSc by Research in Biomedical Sciences (Life Sciences). 


Year 4. I co-organise with Emma Wood and teach on the Neural Circuits for Learning and Memory elective for Honours Neuroscience. Year 2. I contrbute to teaching neuroscience components of Biomedical Sciences 2.

Positions available

I welcome applications from:

1) Students who wish to pursue a PhD in my laboratory within the Centre for Integrative Physiology.

2) Postdoctoral researchers seeking to hold an independent Fellowship within my laboratory or Centre for Integrative Physiology.

We also from time to time have funded positions available. These are advertised on the University's jobs portal (jobs.ed.ac.uk).

We have outstanding mentoring and support structures for reseachers at all stages of their career and a strong track record in helping candidates secure major competive Fellowships 

Education/Academic qualification

Neuroscience, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Glutamate receptors and the electrophysiological properties of sympathetic preganglionic neurones, University of Aberdeen

Award Date: 1 Jun 1997

Physiology, Bachelor of Science, Physiology (Honours), University of Birmingham

Award Date: 1 Jun 1994

External positions

Editorial Board Member, The Journal of Physiology

1 Jul 2014 → …

Editorial Board Member, Journal of Neurophysiology

1 Jun 2014 → …


  • QP Physiology


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