Professor Malcolm Burrows

Malcolm Burrows

University position

Head of Department

Professor Malcolm Burrows is pleased to consider applications from prospective PhD students.


Department of Zoology

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Research Themes

Systems and Computational Neuroscience

Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


I work on the properties of neurons and the circuits they form to understand how they control behaviour.

1. Motor control. How do nonspiking local interneurons organise motor neurons to generate limb movements? How do spiking interneurons process the resulting proprioceptive signals during movement and signalling by other sensory neurons.

2. Phenotypic plasticity. Locusts exist in two distinct forms; a solitary phase in which they live independently and a gregarious swarming phase. How does the nervous system control the transition from one phase to another?. What changes occur in the properties of individual neurons and of neurochemicals in the brain?

3. Fast movements. Jumping is one of the fastest and most powerful movements. The actions of circuits of identified neurons, the kinematics of the movements and the mechanics of joints and muscles reveal the mechanisms required to generate these movements.

Research Focus


motor control

identified neurons

non-spiking interneurons



Clinical conditions

No direct clinical relevance


Behavioural analysis

Computational modelling

Confocal microscopy

High speed imaging of movements



Swidbert Ott

Steve Rogers


Peter Braunig Web:

Hannelore Hoch Web:

Jeremy Niven Web:

Mike Picker Web:

Steve Simpson Web:

Key publications

Burrows M (2007), “Neural control and coordination of jumping in froghopper insects” J Neurophysiology 97:320-330

Burrows M (2003), “Froghopper insects leap to new heights” Nature 42:509

Niven JE, Burrows M (2003), “Spike width reduction modifies the dynamics of short-term depression at a central synapse in the locust” J Neuroscience 23:7461-7469