Bio

Professional Education


  • Doctor of Philosophy, Drexel University (2017)
  • Bachelor of Arts, University of Virginia (2012)

Publications

All Publications


  • UPREGULATING A REDUCED POPULATION OF PREFRONTAL PARVALBUMIN INTERNEURONS TO RESTORE COGNITIVE FUNCTION IN SCHIZOPHRENIA Chamberlin, L., Ferguson, B., McEachern, E., Nassar, B., Gao, W. OXFORD UNIV PRESS. 2019: S262–S263
  • PV Interneurons: Critical Regulators of E/I Balance for Prefrontal Cortex-Dependent Behavior and Psychiatric Disorders FRONTIERS IN NEURAL CIRCUITS Ferguson, B. R., Gao, W. 2018; 12: 37

    Abstract

    Elucidating the prefrontal cortical microcircuit has been challenging, given its role in multiple complex behaviors, including working memory, cognitive flexibility, attention, social interaction and emotional regulation. Additionally, previous methodological limitations made it difficult to parse out the contribution of certain neuronal subpopulations in refining cortical representations. However, growing evidence supports a fundamental role of fast-spiking parvalbumin (PV) GABAergic interneurons in regulating pyramidal neuron activity to drive appropriate behavioral responses. Further, their function is heavily diminished in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) in numerous psychiatric diseases, including schizophrenia and autism. Previous research has demonstrated the importance of the optimal balance of excitation and inhibition (E/I) in cortical circuits in maintaining the efficiency of cortical information processing. Although we are still unraveling the mechanisms of information representation in the PFC, the E/I balance seems to be crucial, as pharmacological, chemogenetic and optogenetic approaches for disrupting E/I balance induce impairments in a range of PFC-dependent behaviors. In this review, we will explore two key hypotheses. First, PV interneurons are powerful regulators of E/I balance in the PFC, and help optimize the representation and processing of supramodal information in PFC. Second, diminishing the function of PV interneurons is sufficient to generate an elaborate symptom sequelae corresponding to those observed in a range of psychiatric diseases. Then, using this framework, we will speculate on whether this circuitry could represent a platform for the development of therapeutic interventions in disorders of PFC function.

    View details for PubMedID 29867371

  • Anatomically Defined and Functionally Distinct Dorsal Raphe Serotonin Sub-systems. Cell Ren, J., Friedmann, D., Xiong, J., Liu, C. D., Ferguson, B. R., Weerakkody, T., DeLoach, K. E., Ran, C., Pun, A., Sun, Y., Weissbourd, B., Neve, R. L., Huguenard, J., Horowitz, M. A., Luo, L. 2018

    Abstract

    The dorsal raphe (DR) constitutes a major serotonergic input to the forebrain and modulates diverse functions and brain states, including mood, anxiety, and sensory and motor functions. Most functional studies to date have treated DR serotonin neurons as a single population. Using viral-genetic methods, we found that subcortical- and cortical-projecting serotonin neurons have distinct cell-body distributions within the DR and differentially co-express a vesicular glutamate transporter. Further, amygdala- and frontal-cortex-projecting DR serotonin neurons have largely complementary whole-brain collateralization patterns, receive biased inputs from presynaptic partners, and exhibit opposite responses to aversive stimuli. Gain- and loss-of-function experiments suggest that amygdala-projecting DR serotonin neurons promote anxiety-like behavior, whereas frontal-cortex-projecting neurons promote active coping in the face of challenge. These results provide compelling evidence that the DR serotonin system contains parallel sub-systems that differ in input and output connectivity, physiological response properties, and behavioral functions.

    View details for PubMedID 30146164

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