The basal ganglia are believed to play a key role in reward-based decision making, particularly in the selection of rewarded actions and suppression of undesired actions. I will discuss recent optogenetic and chemogenetic manipulation experiments that inform our understanding of how activity in striatal spiny projection neurons contributes to choice.
In my lab, we focus on the development and function of the prefrontal cortex and basal ganglia and their role in feedback based learning, behavioral flexibility, decision-making, and substance use. We use in vivo imaging and in vivo and ex vivo electrophysiology to investigate developmental and experience-dependent changes in neural circuits and optogenetics and DREADDs to test how changes in neural activity may influence behavior in mouse models.
We have a particular interest in the period of adolescence as a potential sensitive period for brain development. We study the influence of different forms of adversity and pubertal timing on behavior and circuit development at this time in both human subjects and rodent models. I am also a founding member of the Center on the Developing Adolescent whose mission is to improve adolescent health, education, and well-being through developmental science by building bridges between research, programs, and policy.
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