We are interested in the molecular mechanisms involved in synaptic transmission and plasticity using electrophysiological, optogenetic and behavioral tools in mouse brain and spinal cord. We study brain circuit alterations caused by stress, drugs of abuse, and pain. Our lab focuses on three regions of the central nervous system 1) the ventral tegmental area (VTA), a key nucleus in the reward pathway and 2) spinal dorsal horn to brain connections that carry pain information, and 3) the periaqueductal gray (PAG), a midbrain region that expresses high levels of opioid receptors and has been implicated in analgesia. For more information about our research, please see our Research page.
Read our Latest Paper
This paper found that dopamine neurons in the VTA release the neuropeptide CCK from their dendrites. It feeds back to potentiate inhibitory synapses on the dopamine neurons.