Our lab uses Learning Theory- the idea that behavior can best be explained in terms of an associative structure acquired through experience- to guide our thinking and motivate experiments.
We are interested in how animals control their actions, and situations and settings which promote gain or loss of control. To that end, we seek to develop animal models for behavioral addictions- e.g., gambling disorder, internet or phone addictions.
Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
We use an animal model of ADHD, the Spontaneously Hypertensive Rat (SHR), to examine learning, motivation, and goal-directed behavior. We also examine how different ADHD pharmacotherapies influence behavior in this model.
- Operant procedures- Med-Associates programmable operant chambers
- Observation- Open Field, Elevated Plus Maze, and home cage observation.
- Object Memory- Novel Object Recognition, and Object-In-Place memory.
- Sensorimotor Learning- Accelerating Rotarod
- Social behavior- 3-chambered social novelty test.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
With Dr. Tracy Tran (RU-N Biology) and Viji Santhakumar (UC Riverside Biology), we examine how semaphorin signaling contributes to nervous system development, and how loss-of-function gives rise to aberrant neural system development, activity, and disordered behavior.
With Dr. Maxime Assous (Cardiff University) and James Tepper (RU-N Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience), we examine the contribution of striatal interneuron subtypes (THINs and cholinergic interneurons) in learning and cognitive flexibility.
With Dr. Wilma Friedman (RU-N Biology), we examine behavior in animals with altered cerebellar function.