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Dr Christopher Heath

Profile summary

  • Central Academic Staff
  • Lecturer in Health Sciences
  • Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics
  • School of Life, Health & Chemical Sciences
  • christopher.heath

Research interests

Translational Neuroscience Research Group – Closing the Gap

The conversion of promising findings from the research laboratory into effective clinical treatments for neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric illnesses is very challenging. One element of the process that can be improved is the capability to readily translate between the assessments used to evaluate the effects of a potential therapeutic intervention on cognitive processes in model systems and those used in patients.  

Recent developments in touchscreen computing have enabled the generation of a new approach to cognitive assessment based on the presentation of and interaction with sequences of visual stimuli that can be readily administered across model systems and clinical populations.

A major objective of the laboratory is the application of this approach to various models of neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric illness and corresponding clinical populations to provide a consistent platform for model validation and novel therapeutic screening. The group is also working to develop, optimise and validate new touchscreen-based assessments to enable the study of additional cognitive domains with a focus on motivation, cost-benefit decision making and emotional state regulation. Another goal is to apply the technical and procedural advantages of this methodology to non-disease related areas, including routine welfare monitoring and circadian rhythm biology.

 

Current research in the group includes:

  1. Development and validation of a new battery of touchscreen-based assessments for the routine evaluation of motivation and affective state
  2. Touchscreen-based assessment for evaluating the impact of circadian rhythm disruption on cognitive performance
  3. Assessment of the persistent consequences of poor maternal diet and maternal smoking on offspring cognition
  4. Investigating the neurobiological correlates of apathy in Huntington’s disease

 

Group members:

Chris Heath (Group Leader – Lecturer in Health Sciences)

Emily Breese (PhD student)

Peter Carr (Visiting undergraduate; December 2016)

 

External collaborations

OU Collaborators:

Cheryl Hawkes and Laura Contu

 

UK Collaborators:

Martin Thirkettle, Sheffield Hallam University

Claire O’Callaghan, University of Cambridge

Laura Lopez-Cruz, University of Cambridge

Ben Phillips, University of Cambridge

 

International Collaborators:

Tim Bussey and Lisa Saksida, University of Western Ontario, Canada

Eosu Kim, Yonsei University, Korea

Research Activity

Externally funded projects

TRANSFER IN: Development and validation of a rodent touchscreen battery for assessing motivation and affective state

RoleStart dateEnd dateFunding source
Lead01/Apr/201631/Mar/2019NC3Rs (National Centre for the Replacement Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research)
The focus of this project is to develop and validate a series of non-invasive behavioural assessments for laboratory rodents that will enable routine evaluation of motivation and affective state. These assays will be designed with a lower severity band (refinement) and require fewer animals (reduction) than current methods.

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