Associate Professor Lucy Palmer

Lucy is an Associate Professor and laboratory head of the Neural Networks Laboratory at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health.

Lucy obtained her PhD at ANU in 2008 and conducted postdoctoral research at the University of Bern, Switzerland and Charite University of Medicine, Berlin. She returned to Australia in 2013 to begin running her own laboratory at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health.

With a focus on the brain’s intricate wiring, the Palmer Laboratory investigates the neural activity contributing to sensory-based perception, learning and behaviour in the brain.

Of particular interest is the activity of dendrites – thin neural processes that receive the majority of the neuron’s synaptic input. How dendritic activity is modulated during different inputs, brain states, memory formation and learning is the main focus of her research.

Lucy and her team investigate neural activity underlying behaviour using a variety of techniques including whole-cell patch-clamp electrophysiology, two-photon calcium imaging, widefield calcium imaging and optogenetics.

Through her work, Lucy hopes to shed light on the neural activity underlying brain function and consequently lead to greater understanding of brain disorders such as schizophrenia, autism and epilepsy and the effect of misfiring or mis-wiring of the brain circuits.

An understanding of the neural correlates of consciousness is of profound significance to Lucy’s work – the investigation of cellular mechanisms that may be the underpinnings of consciousness.

In 2017 she was awarded the prestigious Senior Medical Research Viertel Fellowship and in the same year won the Women’s Agenda Leadership Award in Technology and in 2019 she was awarded an Allen Institute for Brain Science ‘OpenScope’ project.

Why does consciousness research matter?

An understanding of consciousness, and the mechanisms that create our experience of the world and our place within it, is more important than ever before. Significant to our everyday lives, consciousness research has far reaching implications for: