Our research interests lie at the interface of neurobiology and psychiatry.  Experiments conducted in our laboratory apply basic neuropharmacological approaches to the study of central dopaminergic systems, with the ultimate goal of determining the neurobiological correlates of mental disorders and the modes of action of psychotherapeutic drugs. One aspect of this research involves the study of the basic physiological properties of neurochemically identified neurons. Using in vivo and in vitro intracellular recording techniques, neurons are injected with highly fluorescent dyes to outline their morphology, and specific blockers are used to study the ionic mechanisms involved in generating action potentials and regulating the activity states of these cells. By first characterizing the biophysical properties of identified neurons, the processes contributing to their responses to pharmacological agents, such as those that play a role in the exacerbation or therapeutic treatment of psychiatric disorders, may be interpreted at a more mechanistic level.

Another aspect of the research in our laboratory involves the use of animal models of psychiatric disorders. Ongoing studies into the neurobiology of schizophrenia involve study of the interaction of the prefrontal cortex and antipsychotic drugs with subcortical dopamine systems. Additional studies are aimed at identifying the role of dopamine neurons in the recovery of behavioral function after partial dopamine-depleting brain lesions, which model the pathology seen in Parkinson's disease in humans. The techniques employed in these analyses include:

Through this approach, the basic neurobiological processes that contribute to psychiatric disorders may be elucidated, and insight may be gained into more effective therapeutic strategies for treating these diseases in humans.