Research Interests

As a systems neuroscientist I have studied the structural organization and molecular plasticity of mammalian brain networks underlying the three basic classes of motivated and emotional behaviors that assure the survival of all animals: ingestive (eating and drinking), defensive (fight or flight), and reproductive (sexual and parental). The first detailed model centered on the paraventricular hypothalamic nucleus and its role in controlling metabolism and eating behavior on the one hand, and body water and drinking behavior on the other. We have since characterized a hypothalamic-midbrain behavior control column at the top of the motor system hierarchy that also regulates defensive and reproductive (together social) behaviors, along with the exploratory or foraging behavior common to all of them. This analysis has also clarified the hypothalamic network responsible for coordinating appropriate behavioral, autonomic, and neuroendocrine responses to a wide range of stimuli from the external and internal environments, from the cognitive system, and from the behavioral state control system. The lab is currently developing an online workbench for neural connectivity, and network tracing methods and strategies for determining systematically the entire wiring diagram or connectome of the mammalian nervous system.

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Section 28: Systems Neuroscience