Cerebellar disruption occurring in early-life permanently disrupts later cognitive behavior. The lab aims to identify the sensitive developmental period that cerebellar activity is required by manipulating neural circuits in early postnatal life. These experiments will combine behavior, neural structure analysis, and markers of critical periods, such as perineuronal net structure.
Using machine learning the lab quantitatively analyses behavior and develops assays to understand how animals learn social dynamics, hierarchy, and dominance. These techniques are applied to a wide variety of questions in the lab studying neural circuits in adolescent and aging animals.
Genes and development
Genes contribute to a vast majority of neural developmental disorders, yet it is unknown how abnormal cell activity influences distal cell molecular profiles. Adolescence is a sensitive period whereby mental health disorders arise and individuals are more susceptible to addiction. In the lab, we combine viral tracing, mapping of whole-brain neural activation, and molecular RNA techniques to understand genetic influences on behavior.
Individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders have comorbidities including high stress reactivity, abnormal sleep patterns, and metabolic disruptions. The lab analyzes neuromodulators to study the connection between the cerebellum, reward circuits, and stress pathways to determine influence on downstream signaling pathways.
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