Neural circuits involved in social interaction
We live in a world profoundly shaped by social behaviours involving interactions and communications between conspecifics of a given species. All mammals, ranging from primates to rodents, engage in social interactions to survive and reproduce. We know little about how the brain encodes social information and which brain circuits are responsible for decision making and subsequent action within the context of social settings. We are employing fiber photometry in combination with social interaction assays in mice to decipher the neural circuits that encode social recognition and discrimination.
Effect of chronic social isolation on circuit function and behaviour
Prolonged social deprivation is a risk factor for the development of affective, cognitive and social deficits. We are interested in the neural systems and mechanisms involved in the detrimental effects of chronic loneliness. We are examining the neurophysiological and behavioural consequences of chronic social isolation in mice. Using optogenetic assisted circuit mapping, we are analyzing systems/circuits as potential treatment targets to overcome social isolation induced behavioural impairments.
Impact of early life stress on circuit development
Exposure to severe stress during a critical developmental period disrupts neural development and results in long-term deficits on neurobehavioural function. Using a mouse model of chronic early life adversity, we are examining the effects of developmental stress on the maturation of critical brain circuits underlying emotional regulation. We are also examining the early life stress-induced alterations in brain network activity in correlation with affective and social dysfunction.
Neurobehavioural impairments in Alzheimer’s Disease
Chronic stress is a known risk factor for development of neurological disorders such as Alzheimer's Disease. Neuropsychiatric disturbances are observed in a substantial amount of Alzheimer's patients and are suggested to manifest themselves early in the course of the disease. Understanding the pathological mechanisms early in disease progression is extremely important toward the development of successful treatment regimens. Using transgenic mouse models for Alzheimer’s Disease, we are investigating how stress early in disease progression disrupts specific brain circuits.
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