Reciprocal interactions of hormones, monoamine neuron function, and psychiatric diseases, especially addiction and depression, in animal models.
The primary interest of this laboratory is to understand the biologic factors that increase sensitivity to drug abuse and depression in vulnerable populations. Specifically, we are interested in mechanisms responsible for the developmental and sex differences in monoamine neurotransmitter systems. One important current focus is studying the neural mechanisms that mediate sex differences in behavioral responses to addictive drugs. The second is understanding the neural and endocrine changes during adolescence that influence sensitivity to drugs of abuse at this critical developmental stage. This laboratory utilizes a multidisciplinary approach that includes biochemical assessment of neurotransmitter release using leading edge technologies like fast scan cyclic voltammetry and receptor activation, anatomical evaluation of monoamine neuron structure and co-expression of behaviorally-relevant molecules, use of in vitro model systems to assess gonadal steroid hormone action and behavioral/physiologic assessments of monoamine neu¬ronal function.