Our Current Projects
Cortico-hippocampal Systems and Memory
The hippocampus has a critical role in many forms of learning, particularly those that involve the conjoining of multiple stimuli. However, the hippocampus does not operate in a vacuum; cortical regions both within and outside of the medial temporal lobe provide multi-sensory, highly-processed information to the hippocampal formation. Using new chemogenetic approaches (DREADDs) We are currently studying how posterior cortical regions (e.g., retrosplenial cortex; posterior parietal cortex, posthrinal cortex) contribute and interact to support learning and memory.
Learning to Inhibit Behavior
Learning to withhold a behavioral response is an important aspect of adaptive behavior and critical developmental milestone. Yet, little research has focused on how neurobiological development is linked to the development of inhibitory control. Using associative learning models, we are determining how development of fronto-striatal systems relates to the emergence of inhibitory behavior in young adulthood.
Cholinergic Modulation of Learning and Memory
Neocortical learning and memory systems are modulated by a variety of subcortical diffuse neurotransmitters systems. We are particularly interested in how the transmitter acetylcholine influences cortico-hippocampal systems involved in learning and memory and how cholinergic dysfunction is related to mental illness. To that end, we are are studying the involvement of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in various types of learning and memory processes.
Physical Exercise and Cognition
An additional line of research focuses on how physical exercise changes brain function and modulates learning, memory, and attention. Our studies currently focus on using voluntary exercise to ameliorate cognitive deficits associated with developmental disorders such as ADHD.
Fiber Photometry Calcium Imaging
Our state-of-the-art two channel fiber photometry system allows us to obtain real time recordings of neural activity in freely behaving animals. By utilizing a highly specific AAV virus conjugated to GCaMP complexes we are able to obtain recordings that are both temporally and spatially specific, in addition to being resistant to movement and electrical interference artifacts.