Dr Bruce Craig Harland


I recently held a post-doctoral position at the University of Arizona investigating the role of the hippocampus during navigation in large-scale complex environments, running a rodent version of the travelling salesperson maths problem, and helping to establish a new capability in optogenetic techniques. Previously, at the Centre of Cognitive and Neural Systems in Edinburgh (UK), I explored how head direction, grid, and place cells are related, and how they contribute to landmark-based navigation. I am originally from Christchurch, where I completed a PhD at University of Canterbury’s Department of Psychology, focussing on the impact of anterior thalamus lesions on behaviour and hippocampal/cortical microstructural integrity, and the reversal of some of these effects after exposure to environmental enrichment.

Research | Current

I am a researcher in the area of spatial navigation and memory, specialising in the implantation of devices to enable live recording of neuronal activity in freely moving animals. My current project involves leveraging these skills to implant a flexible bioelectronic device along the rodent spinal cord to precisely test and map disconnected nerve cell tracts and provide electrical stimulus and nerve growth factors to stimulate and guide nerve cell regrowth after spinal cord injury. The ultimate goal of this research is translational, to provide new avenues of treatment for cases of clinical spinal cord injury.

Areas of expertise

Systems Neuroscience, behavioural testing in rodents, small animal neurosurgery, in vivo electrophysiology in freely moving rodents, histology, microscopy, construction of micro-drives

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Vasquez, J. H., Leong, K. C., Gagliardi, C. M., Harland, B., Apicella, A. J., & Muzzio, I. A. (2019). Pathway specific activation of ventral hippocampal cells projecting to the prelimbic cortex diminishes fear renewal. Neurobiology of learning and memory, 161, 63-71. 10.1016/j.nlm.2019.03.003
  • Cazin, N., Alonso, M. L., Chiodi, P. S., Pelc, T., Harland, B., Weitzenfeld, A., ... Dominey, P. F. (2018). Prefrontal cortex creates novel navigation sequences from hippocampal place-cell replay with spatial reward propagation. 10.1101/466920
  • Gianelli, S., Harland, B., & Fellous, J.-M. (2018). A new rat-compatible robotic framework for spatial navigation behavioral experiments. Journal of neuroscience methods, 294, 40-50. 10.1016/j.jneumeth.2017.10.021
  • Harland, B., Grieves, R. M., Bett, D., Stentiford, R., Wood, E. R., & Dudchenko, P. A. (2017). Lesions of the Head Direction Cell System Increase Hippocampal Place Field Repetition. Current biology : CB, 27 (17), 2706-2712.e2. 10.1016/j.cub.2017.07.071
  • Grieves, R. M., Jenkins, B. W., Harland, B. C., Wood, E. R., & Dudchenko, P. A. (2016). Place field repetition and spatial learning in a multicompartment environment. Hippocampus, 26 (1), 118-134. 10.1002/hipo.22496
  • Harland, B., Wood, E. R., & Dudchenko, P. A. (2015). The head direction cell system and behavior: The effects of lesions to the lateral mammillary bodies on spatial memory in a novel landmark task and in the water maze. Behavioral neuroscience, 129 (6), 709-719. 10.1037/bne0000106
  • Dalrymple-Alford, J. C., Harland, B., Loukavenko, E. A., Perry, B., Mercer, S., Collings, D. A., ... Wolff, M. (2015). Anterior thalamic nuclei lesions and recovery of function: Relevance to cognitive thalamus. Neuroscience and biobehavioral reviews, 54, 145-160. 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2014.12.007
  • Harland, B. C., Collings, D. A., McNaughton, N., Abraham, W. C., & Dalrymple-Alford, J. C. (2014). Anterior thalamic lesions reduce spine density in both hippocampal CA1 and retrosplenial cortex, but enrichment rescues CA1 spines only. Hippocampus, 24 (10), 1232-1247. 10.1002/hipo.22309

Contact details

Primary office location

M&HS BUILDING 503 - Bldg 503
Level 3, Room 302
New Zealand