A new memory system mediating choice between actions

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Environmental cues that predict rewards strongly influence choice between actions that procure those rewards. Our recent work indicates that this influence is mediated by a novel form of memory that involves changes in opioid receptor expression on modulatory interneurons located in the striatum. This project will use modern genetic tools such as optogenetics, chemogenetics and calcium imaging to examine the characteristics of this memory process. The expected outcome is to gain a better understanding of a fundamental contribution to decision-making, which is disrupted in people affected by dementias, neurodegenerative disorders of the basal ganglia, major psychiatric conditions and addiction.

The ideal candidate will have completed a Bachelor or equivalent degree in Psychology or Neuroscience. The candidate will possess theoretical knowledge in the psychological and neural mechanisms underlying learning and memory. Experience in conducting behavioural tasks in rodents and in completing intracranial surgery, histology, immunochemistry and confocal microscopy is recommended.  Skills in employing modern genetic tools such as chemogenetics or optogenetics would be preferable but not essential. 

Supervisory team
Bernard
Balleine

Science
Psychology
John
Power

Medicine
Medical Sciences
Vincent
Laurent

Science
Psychology
bernard.balleine@unsw.edu.au