Mark Walton


I’ve been interested in how people behave for as long as I can remember.  Apparently, even as a toddler, I would be happiest sitting in a corner trying to observe what everyone was doing.  But although I always thought I would like to study psychology in some form, it wasn’t until I was doing my undergraduate degree in Oxford that I started to get fascinated by the brain.  I have a particular memory of observing an experiment where we were able to watch how one neuron in a visual part of the brain responded to a spot of light from a torch being shone around a dark room.  The electrical activity of the cell was wired up to a speaker so we could listen to its activity, and I remember how every time the torchlight flicked across one particular bit of wall, there would be a crackle of sound as the cell detected the light in that precise location.  The fact that, of the tens of billions of neurons in this brain, here we were listening in on how just one of these responded had me hooked.  And over 18 years later, I still find it incredibly compelling to hear or watch the activity of brain cells and chemicals, and then, with my team, try to work out how this activity can enable us to learn about the world and make appropriate decisions.

This is a video abstract we made about a published paper of ours a few years ago.