Centre for Discovery Brain Sciences
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Dr Emma Wood

In the Memory and Space lab we study the neural circuits mediating spatial navigation and memory, and how these are disrupted in models of neurodevelopmental disorders.

Dr Emma Wood


  • 1 George Square
  • Edinburgh, EH8 9JZ

Contact details

Personal profile

  • 1999 - present: Lecturer, Senior Lecturer, Reader - University of Edinburgh
  • 1996 - 1999: Postdoctoral research - Department of Psychology, Boston University
  • 1993 - 1995: Postdoctoral research - Institute of Neuroscience, University of Oregon
  • 1992 - 1992: Grass Fellow - MBL, Woods Hole
  • 1987 - 1992: Commonwealth Scholar, PhD in Neuroscience, University of British Columbia

Research Theme

Synapses, Circuits and Behaviour


A primary focus of the Memory and Space Laboratory (run jointly with Dr Paul Dudchenko) is on the neural systems and circuits mediating spatial navigation and episodic memory - specifically, the ability to know where we are and how to get to where we want to go, and also the ability to remember specific events from our lives.

We research how networks of spatially modulated cells (such as place cells, head direction cells, grid cells and border cells) located in the hippocampus, parahippocampal cortices, and subcortical structures, work and interact to underpin these cognitive functions.

We use an integrated approach combining behavioural analysis with in vivo electrophysiological recording in freely moving rodents, together with manipulations of the circuits using a variety of techniques including lesions, pharmacology, and molecular-genetic cell type-specific targeting tools.

This basic research guides our translational and collaborative research within the Patrick Wild Centre and Simons Initiative for the Developing Brain investigating the circuitry underlying altered cognitive function in rodent models of autism and intellectual disability.


Team members


Selected publications

Wood ER, Dudchenko PA (2021) Navigating space in the mammalian brain. Science 372(6545): 913-914

Full text:  http://science.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/372/6545/913?ijkey=ooGDbyU9BlkP2&keytype=ref&siteid=sci

Reprint: http://science.sciencemag.org/cgi/rapidpdf/372/6545/913?ijkey=ooGDbyU9BlkP2&keytype=ref&siteid=sci

Smith AE, Wood ER*, Dudchenko PA* (2021) The stimulus control of local enclosures and barriers over head direction and place cell spatial firing. Brain and Behavior 2021;11:e02070  https://doi.org/10.1002/brb3.2070

Smith AE, Cheek OA, Sweet ELC, Dudchenko PA*, Wood ER* (2019) Lesions of the head direction cell system impair direction discrimination. Behavioral Neuroscience. 133(6):602-613. https://doi.apa.org/doi/10.1037/bne0000341 * Joint senior/corresponding author.

Asiminas A, Jackson AD, Louros SR, Till SM, Spano T, Dando O, Bear MF, Chattarji S, Hardingham GE, Osterweil EK, Wyllie DJA, Wood ER*, Kind PC*. (2019) Sustained correction of associative learning deficits following brief, early treatment in a rat model of Fragile X Syndrome. Science Translational Medicine. 11(494) eaao0498. https://doi.org/10.1126/scitranslmed.aao0498.  * Joint senior/corresponding author.

Dudchenko PA, Wood ER, Smith A (2019). A new perspective on the head direction cell system and spatial behavior. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews 105:24-33.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neubiorev.2019.06.036

Tennant  SA, Fischer L, Garden DLF, Gerlei KZ, Martinez-Gonzalez C, McClure C, Wood ER & Nolan MF. (2018) Stellate cells in the medial entorhinal cortex are required for spatial learning. Cell Reports. 22(5):1313-1324. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2018.01.005

Harland B, Grieves RM, Bett D, Stentiford R, Wood ER* & Dudchenko PA* (2017) Lesions of the head direction cell system increase hippocampal place field repetition. Current Biology 27(17):2706-2712. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2017.07.071  * Wood and Dudchenko are joint senior authors.

Grieves RM, Wood ER & Dudchenko PA (2016).  Place cells on a maze encode routes rather than destinations. eLife 2016;10.7554/eLife.15986 DOI:https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.15986.001

Grieves RM, Jenkins BW, Harland B, Wood ER* & Dudchenko PA* (2016).  Place field repetition and spatial learning in a multicompartment environment. Hippocampus. 26(1) 118-134. doi: 10.1002/hipo.22496  *Wood and Dudchenko are joint senior authors.

Harland B, Wood ER & Dudchenko PA (2015). The head direction cell system and behavior: The effects of lesions to the lateral mammillary bodies on spatial memory in a novel landmark task and in the water maze. Behavioral Neuroscience 129(6): 709-19. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/bne0000106

Till SM, Asiminas A, Jackson AD, Katsanevaki D, Barnes SA, Osterweil EK, Bear MF, Chattarji S, Wood ER, Wyllie DJA & Kind PC (2015). Conserved hippocampal cellular pathophysiology but distinct behavioural deficits in a rat model of Fragile X Syndrome. Human Molecular Genetics 24(21): 5977-84.

Bett D, Stevenson CH, Shires KL, Smith MT, Martin SJ, Dudchenko PA & Wood ER  (2013) The postsubiculum and spatial learning: the role of postsubicular synaptic activity and synaptic plasticity in hippocampal place cell-, object- and object-location memory. J Neuroscience 33(16): 6928-6943.

Langston RF, Stevenson CH, Wilson CL, Saunders I & Wood ER (2010) The role of hippocampal subregions in memory for stimulus associations Behavioural Brain Research 215: 275-291. doi:10.1016/j.bbr.2010.07.006

Langston RF & Wood ER (2010) Associative recognition and the hippocampus: differential effects of hippocampal lesions on object-place, object-context and object-place-context memory. Hippocampus 20(10) 1139-53. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/hipo.20714

Wood ER, Dudchenko PA, Robitsek RJ & Eichenbaum H (2000) Hippocampal neurons encode information about different types of memory episodes occurring in the same location. Neuron 27: 623-633.

Wood ER, Dudchenko PA & Eichenbaum H (1999) The global record of memory in hippocampal neuronal activity. Nature 397: 613-616.

Information for students:

Willingness to discuss research projects with undergraduate and postgraduate students: YES - please click here