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Blizard Institute - Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry

Professor Abhishek Banerjee, DPhil, MSc


Professor of Neuroscience

Centre: Centre for Neuroscience, Surgery and Trauma

Twitter: @abhii_mit


Abhi did D.Phil. in Physiology at the University of Oxford as a Felix Scholar in the laboratory of Professor Ole Paulsen. Abhi studied spike timing-dependent learning rules and the roles of NMDA receptors in cortical development and plasticity. During his postdoctoral training, Abhi worked as a Simons Foundation Fellow at MIT with Professor Mriganka Sur, focusing on inhibitory mechanisms in cortical plasticity. Furthermore, he investigated cellular and circuit mechanisms of inhibitory dysfunctions in Rett syndrome, a neurodevelopmental disorder in the autism spectrum. He postulated functional mechanistic rescue using recombinant human IGF1, the only drug now approved by the FDA for Rett Syndrome. During his time at MIT, he was also an Instructor at the Department of Biology and a Teaching Fellow in Neurobiology at the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Harvard University. He moved to the University of Zürich as a Marie SkÅ‚odowska-Curie Fellow and NARSAD Young Investigator to work with Professor Fritjof Helmchen, where he developed assays to study flexibility of learning and prefrontal-sensory interactions that guide such ability. After a brief stint at Newcastle University as an Associate Professor, Abhi joined Queen Mary University of London and Oxford as a Professor of Neuroscience with a Wellcome Career Development Award.

FENZ-Kavli Scholar profile


  • 2024 Course Faculty and Lecturer, Neurobiology: Mechanisms & Advanced Approaches, Marine Biological Laboratory Woods Hole, USA
  • BMD261 and BMD369 - Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience, Queen Mary University of London


Research Interests:

How do we learn new tasks in our everyday life? If you know how to play tennis, what happens when you start playing, say squash, for the first time? How does our brain understand and accommodate new sensorimotor actions (e.g., serve) as well as new ‘rules of the game’ (Merci, Monsieur Renoir)? Understanding how the brain learns a new sensory and cognitive task that allows ‘flexible behaviour’ is a hugely complex challenge. This is partly due to decentralised neural computation in the brain. Learning dynamics shape the properties of microscopic structures in individual neurons and how populations of similar or different types of neurons in different brain areas interact at the mesoscale to influence new learning and decision-making. We are fascinated by such questions.

The research in our Adaptive Decisions Lab entails a combination of parametric behavioural tasks, novel neurotechnology (viral methods, optogenetics, CRISPR), and multi-area imaging methods to reveal the dynamics of micro-and mesoscopic circuits during flexible behaviour. This effort promises substantial new insight into how dysfunction in mechanisms at either spatial scale leads to pathophysiology in autism spectrum disorders. We also merge the field of AI and neuroscience to implement new machine learning algorithms to decipher and better interpret how cognitive variables reorganise during learning. Finally, we are developing analogous cognitive tasks in humans with EEG and fMRI measurements to probe conserved circuit-specific computations in the brain. Dimensional psychiatry is at a crossroads; we need a cross-species neurobiological and computational footing to understand brain disorders.


Key Publications

  1. Wang BA, Veismann M, Banerjee A†, Pleger B† (2023) Human orbitofrontal cortex signals decision outcomes to sensory cortex during behavioural adaptations. Nature Communications 14. †Corresponding author.
  2. Gigliucci V, Teutsch J, Busnelli M, Chini B, and Banerjee A† (2022) Circuit-specific rescue of KCC2 by rhIGF-1 and oxytocin in a mouse model of Rett syndrome. Cerebral Cortex 13:2885-2894. †Corresponding author.
  3. Banerjee A†, Parente G, Teutsch J, Lewis C, Voigt FF and Helmchen F (2020) Value-guided remapping of sensory cortex by lateral orbitofrontal cortex. Nature 585:245-250. †Corresponding author. This paper was awarded the ‘Best Paper of the Year Award 2020’ by Society for Neuroeconomics.
  4. Banerjee A, Rikhye RV, Breton-Provencher V, Tang X, Li C, Li K, Runyan C, Fu Z, Jaenisch R, and Sur M (2016) Jointly reduced inhibition and excitation underlies circuit-wide changes in cortical processing in Rett Syndrome. PNAS 113(46):E7287-E7296.
  5. Swiech L*, Heidenreich M*, Banerjee A, Habib N, Sur M and Zhang F (2014) In vivo interrogation of gene function in the mammalian brain using Cas9. Nature Biotechnology, 33:102-106.

All Publications


Abhi is happy to discuss potential Ph.D. and Postdoc opportunities as well as sponsoring externally-funded fellowships. Please email Abhi for an informal inquiry:

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