Research Interests: Behavioral Neuroscience, Basal ganglia, learning/motivation, dopamine
My lab focuses on behavioral flexibility and motivation with a focus on dopamine mechanisms in the basal ganglia. We use mouse genetic, viral and pharmacological tools to dissect the neural substrates mediating behavior, with an emphasis on using semi-naturalistic homecage paradigms to study adaptive behavior. The lab is currently in the process of setting up physiological techniques to better assess underlying mechanisms in the behavior we are studying, including optogenetics and cyclic voltammetry and, through collaboration, slice electrophysiology. There are two umbrella projects within the lab: (1) Aberrant learning and plasticity associated with dopamine denervation, including its role in the symptoms, course and treatment of PD and, (2) an alternative hypothesis on dopamine that suggests the primary function of dopamine is to adapt energy expenditure to the energy economy in which the organism finds itself. Within this latter project, the emphasis is on obesity and addiction.