zum Inhalt springen

Prof. Dr. Arjan Blokland

Head of Department

Curriculum Vitae


My research mainly focusses on learning and memory. On the one hand I want to understand how the brain processes novel information and how this new information is stored into long-term memories. This research is mainly focused on animal studies in which psychopharmacological tools or deep brain stimulation is used. The aim of these efforts is finding treatments for memory disorders,

1. Phosphodiesterase inhibition and memory
cAMP and cGMP are intracellular cyclic nucleotides that play a pivotal role in cellular signaling pathways. These cyclic nucleotides are broken down by phosphodiesterases (PDEs). At present 11 different PDEs are known, which a multitude number of splice variants. Since long-term potentiation is also dependent on cAMP and cGMP signaling, PDEs can increase this signal and thereby improving memory. At present we are especially interested in PDE4 inhibitors which could be considered as cognition enhancers in memory disorders (e.g. MCI).

2. Deep brain stimulation and memory
Deep brain stimulation has been used for many decades to improve many neurological conditions, of which Parkinson’s disease is the most well know. Stimulation of different structures in the basal ganglia are able to restore functional imbalance of the damaged the basal ganglia. More recent developments suggest that stimulation of the limbic structures may also restore cognitive functions in memory disorders (e.g., Alzheimer’s disease). Recent studies show that the fornix could be a relevant target to improve memory functions.

3. Acetylcholine and memory      
Since the first stages of my research I have been interested in the neurotransmitter acetylcholine and how it is related to memory functions. In my research I have tried to show that the role of acetylcholine is dependent on the brain structure. Its role is not primarily related to memory as such, but that cortical acetylcholine is more related to attentional functions. Further, I have shown that the muscarinic type 1 receptor, which can be found in the hippocampus, is highly relevant for memory functions.