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Research groups

Oana Gurau

MSc (Res), BSc


I am a DPhil student supervised by Chris Butler (NDCN) and Kia Nobre, funded by the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences. My research explores the role of the hippocampus in spatial memory and navigation. I use virtual reality (VR) to investigate spatial memory and navigation mechanisms and how these functions are affected by medial temporal lobe (MTL) pathology and ageing. I also use MRI to explore the role of hippocampal subfields in spatial memory in MTL disease, such as hippocampal amnesia caused by limbic encephalitis.

My first project compares immersive and computer-based virtual reality to determine if there are differences in allocentric spatial memory performance in healthy participants and amnesiac patients. VR has proven to be a useful tool for investigating these cognitive functions. However, how representative these tasks are of real world navigation remains an open question. These investigations are also clinically significant, as spatial memory impairment is a key feature of MTL pathology such as Alzheimer’s Disease. An accurate understanding of these mechanisms could have a beneficial impact on the management of these conditions.

I graduated with a BSc in Cognitive Psychology and Neuroscience from Jacobs University Bremen in Germany, during which I started researching spatial memory in temporal lobe epilepsy patients. Following my bachelor studies, I completed an MSc by Research in Psychiatry at University of Oxford, focusing on the utility of EEG data analysis methods in Autism Spectrum Disorders diagnosis.