The goal of my lab is to understand how physiological and behavioural challenges lead to long-term changes in neural circuitry in the hypothalamus. We focus on neurons that coordinate an organism's response to stress, with a particular interest in how the molecules released at the onset of a stress leave a lasting imprint to alter subsequent stress responses.
Since the hypothalamic-pituitary axis has been implicated in a number of mental health disorders, including depression, a better understanding of the mechanisms that control the hypothalamic command neurons is critical for designing rational therapeutic approaches to these disorders.
What are the questions we ask?
We are currently exploring three lines of investigation:
What are the techniques we use?
We use a number of experimental techniques to answer the above questions. These include, but are not limited to: patch clamp recordings from neurons in brain slices for the measurement of excitatory and inhibitory synaptic currents; UV laser uncaging of bioactive molecules; immunohistochemistry for the labeling of receptors and neuronal subpopulations; in vivo microinjection; behavioural manipulations and hormone assays.