Personal profile


Wellcome Trust and Royal Society Sir Henry Dale fellow


Nathalie Rochefort studied biology and epistemology at the University Paris-VII and the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris. She then obtained a European PhD in Neuroscience from the University Paris-VI and the Ruhr-Universität-Bochum in Germany. By using in vivo imaging methods in the cat and the mouse visual cortex, her work during her PhD and post-doctoral training has contributed to a new understanding of how visual information is processed in the intact brain. She joined the University of Edinburgh in 2013 to establish her research group and has been awarded a Sir Henry Dale Fellowship as well as a Marie Curie Career Integration grant. 


  • 2002-2007, Ph.D. in Neuroscience, European PhD between University Paris 6 (ED3C) and Ruhr-Universität (International Graduate School of Neuroscience). Supervisors: Prof. Dr. U.T. Eysel, Ruhr-Universität, Bochum, Germany and Dr. C. Milleret, Laboratory of Physiologie de la Perception et de l’Action, UMR7152, CNRS/Collège-de-France, Paris, France. Passed dissertation with “Summa cum Laude”.
  • 1997-01, Master in Biology and Biochemistry, Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris, “with honours”. Master in Epistemology and History of Sciences, University Paris 7, “with high honours”.
  • 1995-97, Undergraduate degree, University Paris 7, “with high honours”.


Research Interests

Our research focuses on understanding how brain neuronal networks process visual information and how experience durably modifies the activity of these networks.

Research Groups

Centre for Discovery Brain Sciences

Edinburgh Neuroscience,

Simons Initiative for the Developing Brain (SIDB)

Research students

Team members

  • Zahid Padamsey (Post-doctoral fellow)
  • Danai Katsanevaki (Post-doctoral fellow)
  • Nathalie Dupuy (Post-doctoral fellow)
  • Tom Flossmann (Post-doctoral fellow)
  • Valerio Francioni (PhD student)
  • Theo Amvrosiadis (PhD student)
  • Zihao Chen (PhD student)

Lab alumni

  • Janelle Pakan (Postdoctoral fellow; now Group Leader, Center for Behavioral Brain Sciences (CBBS), Otto-von-Guericke-Universität Magdeburg, Germany)
  • Sander Keemink (Post-doctoral fellow; now Post-doctoral Marie Curie fellow Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown, Portugal)
  • Evelyn Dylda (PhD student; now Post-doctoral fellow at University of Rochester Medical Center, NY, USA)
  • Lukas Fischer (Postdoctoral fellow, now post-doctoral associate at MIT, USA)
  • Stephen Currie (Postdoctoral fellow; now post-doctoral University of Edinburgh)
  • Christopher Coutts (Post-doctoral fellow; now Resident Physician, Stereotactic Neurosurgery, University Hospital Magdeburg, Germany)
  • Scott Lowe (PhD student; now Post-doctoral fellow Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada, and Vector Institute, Toronto, Canada)
  • Lotte Herstel (Master student; now PhD student in Utrecht University, Netherlands)

My research in a nutshell

Brain functions such as sensations and thoughts depend on the coordinated activity of neuronal networks. The aim of my research group is to reveal how neuronal networks integrate sensory information in order to create a representation of the outside world that is relevant for the animal’s behaviour. We are using the mouse primary visual cortex as a model system of cortical integration of sensory and non-sensory information.

Using such information, we apply the same approach to study how network activity is disrupted in the brain of mouse models for autistic spectrum disorders and intellectual disabilities.


Year 3

Neuroscience 3: Vision

Year 4:

Physiology 4

Honours elective:

Neural circuits for learning and memory

Sensory Physiology and Dysfunction

Synaptic Function and Plasticity in Health and Disease

Postgraduate (MsC):

MSc by Research Integrative Neuroscience


Administrative Roles

2018-               Co-convenor of the Biomedical Sciences Opportunity Committee.

2015-2017       Member of the Centre for Integrative Physiology executive committee

2016-2017       Writing group for the application to the Athena Swan Award, Biomedical Sciences, University of Edinburgh.

2015-present   Member of the Biomedical Sciences Opportunity Committee.

2015-present   Organization of Women in Science round table discussions

Current Research Interests

Our aim is to reveal how neuronal networks integrate visual information to guide perceptions and actions.

We use the mouse primary visual cortex as a model system of cortical integration of sensory and non-sensory information. Neurons in the primary visual cortex respond to specific features of visual stimuli such as their location, their orientation and their direction of movement.

These visual responses do not only depend on the characteristics of the stimuli but are also strongly modulated by the context in which they are perceived, such as the animal’s behavioural state and its previous experience associated with these stimuli.

Locomotion, for example, increases the gain of visual responses in the primary visual cortex. Past experience can also durably modify visual cortical responses, for example through the association of a given stimulus with a positive or negative outcome.

By using two-photon calcium imaging combined with electrophysiological recordings in awake behaving mice, our current projects investigate:

1. How visually-guided behaviour modulates neuronal activity in the visual cortex

2. How individual pyramidal neurons integrate feed-forward visual inputs with contextual inputs

3. How cortical information processing is impacted by metabolic state

Using such information, we apply the same combination of methods to study how this network activity is disrupted in the brain of mouse models for autistic spectrum disorders and intellectual disabilities.


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