Research Interests

Research interests in my laboratory focus on using molecular genetic techniques to map neural circuits for innate behaviors, in both flies and mice. In mice, our primary focus is on neural circuits underlying fear, anxiety and pain. We are using genes expressed in subsets of neurons within the amygdala, a structure implicated in fear, to genetically silence and activate these neurons, as well as to trace their connectivity. A similar approach is being applied to studying the function of subsets of nociceptive primary sensory neurons. We are also collaborating with the laboratory of Henry Lester to develop techniques for reversible genetic neuronal silencing in mice. Our research in flies is focused on applying analogous approaches to dissecting the neural circuitry underlying simple "models" of innate olfactory avoidance behavior, agitation/arousal and "behavioral inhibition," a correlate of anxiety in mammalian species.

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Primary Section

Section 24: Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

Secondary Section

Section 22: Cellular and Developmental Biology