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This month sees the retirement of Professor Peter Brown as Director of the Medical Research Council Brain Network Dynamics Unit at the University of Oxford.

Brain and graph

Professor Brown has led an MRC-funded research team for over 25 years. He established that synchronised rhythms amongst nerve cells in the basal ganglia of the brains of people with Parkinson's are linked to symptoms of stiffness and slowness, and successfully pioneered therapeutic interventions that leverage this phenomenon.

In 2015, he became the founding Director of the MRC Brain Network Dynamics Unit, and has since overseen the growth of the Unit into one of the leading international research centres exploring neuronal dynamics in health and disease.

Deputy Director Professor Peter Magill will become Interim Director, succeeding Professor Brown to ensure the Unit's continued success.

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Researchers from the Medical Research Council Brain Network Dynamics Unit at the University of Oxford and the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences have identified a novel mechanism by which the brain produces powerful lasting memories that drive ill-advised actions. Focusing on cocaine experience, the researchers demonstrate how the collective activity of many nerve cells distributed across the brain underlies the persistence of such memories, providing new insights into why drug-seeking behaviours could lead to addiction.