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Prof Sonja Hofer
21 University Street
Rockefeller Building, room 322
Tel: +44 (0)20 7679 6381
  • Professor of Neuroscience
  • The Sainsbury Wellcome Centre
  • Faculty of Life Sciences
UCL Subsidiary Supervisor

Dr. Sonja Hofer graduated in 2002 with a degree in Biology from the Technical University Munich.She completed her PhD and short postdoctoral studies with Mark Huebener and Tobias Bonhoeffer at teh Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology in Martinsried, Germany. Following a second postdoc with Thomas Mrsic-Flogel at UCL with funding from the Humboldt Foundation and EMBO, she was awarded a Wellcome Trust Research Career Development Fellowship in 2011 to establish her independent research group.

Research Themes
Research Summary

Our brains constantly have to adapt to changes in the environment. Therefore neuronal circuits cannot be hardwired, but require the capacity to change, and to integrate and store new information about the world around us. This is especially important during development when circuits are first set up, but also later in life to enable learning and memory formation. Learning alters our perceptions, cognition and behaviour by modifying neuronal circuits within and between different brain regions. Understanding how this happens is crucial for understanding normal brain function, and for devising therapeutic approaches for correcting disorders of infromation storage and retrieval such as dementia. Yet the mechanisms of learning in the intact brain are not well understood. How new information is stored in neuronal circuits and how new experiences, which are behaviourally relevant for the animal, alter single cells, their connections and the flow of information through neuronal networks, remain fundamental questions in neuroscience.

In my lab we are studying the mechanisms by which neocortical circuits give rise to sensations, how these circuits are set up during development and how they are changed and shaped by new experiences and learning. Using the mouse visual cortex as a model system we are emplying state of the art in vivo imaging of function and structure, electrophysiological and genetic techniques to visualize neurons, their activity and their synapses in the intact brain and follow changes over time while animals are learning or making new experiences.

Academic Background
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