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You are here: FRIAS Scientific Staff Current Scientific … Dr. Richard Pinnell

Dr. Richard Pinnell

Neuroelectronic Systems
University Hospital Freiburg
PostDoc with ISF Ulrich G. Hofmann


My academic studies began with electrical engineering (MEng; 2003-2008; Bangor University), after which I pursued an engineering doctorate in Biomedical Engineering (EngD; 2008-2013; Strathclyde University). The latter involved the development of wireless devices for EEG recording and deep-brain stimulation (DBS), and their use in rodent models of relevance to schizophrenia. Afterwards I undertook several months work as a design engineer for the medical devices industry, prior to returning to academia (and neuroscience) as a postdoc in Freiburg (2014-present). Much of my work has been based on the use of DBS in rodents, and its implications on learning and memory. I typically apply my engineering knowledge to arrive at unique solutions to traditional research problems (e.g. wireless EEG recording inside a water maze); which I subsequently utilise in my experiments. At present, I'm looking at DBS of the thalamus, and its effects in prefrontal-hippocampal brain regions.

FRIAS-USIAS Research Project

Much of the studies that are based on working memory has focussed on the interplay between the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and the CA1 region of the hippocampus. Whilst the underlying neural mechanisms remain poorly understood, the midline thalamic nucleus reuniens may offer an insight into the functional workings of these regions during such behavioural processes. Forming reciprocal connectivity with both the mPFC and the hippocampus, it has been suggested to play a modulatory role regarding the activity of prefonto-hippocampal brain regions. We hypothesise that DBS carried out in this thalamic region may result in modulatory effects that can offer measurable behavioural, functional and anatomical observations. As such the aims of this project are: 1) refine the targeting procedures in this small brain region using a robotic stereotaxic frame, 2) refine the stimulus parameters used, 3) design and carry out a range of experiments that can yield behavioural, functional and anatomical insights into not only the functionality of these brain regions under different cognitive states, but also the effects of thalamic DBS on such processes.

Selected Publications

  • Pinnell, R.C, Almajidy, R.K, Hofmann, U.G. 2015. Versatile 3D printed skull socket for chronic rat brain implants. J. Neurosci Meth. doi:
  • Pinnell R.C, Pratt, J, Dempster, J. 2015. Miniature wireless deep-brain stimulator and EEG recording device for rodent behavioural testing. J. Neural. Eng. 12 066015, doi:
  • Kirch, R.D., Pinnell, R.C., Hofmann, U.G., Cassel, J.C. 2015. The Double-H Maze: A Robust Behavioural Test for Learning and Memory in Rodents. J. Vis. Exp. (101), e52667, doi: 10.3791/52667.
  • Pinnell,R, Pratt, J,A, Dempster, J.J. ?Development of a miniature wireless stimulation and electrophysiological recording device for rodent behavioral testing?. Program No. 322.13. 2012 Neuroscience Meeting Planner. New Orleans, LA: Society for Neuroscience, 2012.
  • Pinnell,R, Pratt, J,A, Dempster, J,J. ?Wireless electrophysiology and schizophrenia?. Program No. T5. Program and Abstract Booklet. Dundee,
    UK: 9th Annual Scottish Neuroscience Group Meeting, 2012.