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To understand the ability to orient ourselves in space, UCL neuroscientist John O’Keefe studied the movements of rats and signals from nerve cells in the hippocampus, an area located in the centre of the brain. He found that cells in the brain formed a kind of internal map. For this work he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2014. Join him to hear about his ground-breaking work, which could offer vital clues to understanding dementia.

John O’Keefe received a PhD in physiological psychology at McGill University in Montreal, Canada in 1967, and then moved to England to do research at University College London. He stayed in London and in 1987 was appointed professor of cognitive neuroscience at University College. John is currently director of the Sainsbury Wellcome Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour at University College.

John was 1/2 of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medcine in 2014 for ‘their discoveries of cells that constitute a positioning system in the brain’. His research is into the awareness of one’s location and how to find the way to other places is crucial for both humans and animals. To understand the ability to orient ourselves in space, John studied the movements of rats and signals from nerve cells in the hippocampus, an area located in the center of the brain. In 1971 he discovered that when a rat was at a certain location in a room, certain cells were activated, and that when the rat moved to another location, other cells became activated. That is to say, the cells form a kind of internal map of the room.

The Atrium cafe will be open before and after the talk. Check out the delicious menu and call 020 7670 2973 or email ri@ri.ac.uk to reserve your table.

There will also be a cash bar before the Discourse, where you can relax, meet likeminded people with an interest in science, and have a drink.

The dress code for this event is smart (ties optional, no jeans or trainers). Please note, if you are not dressed smartly you may be asked to sit in the gallery.

This event will be filmed and on the Ri’s YouTube channel within a few months. Subscribe for free to hear when new videos are released.