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Neurobiology and Behavior Seminar
Tuesday, February 4th, 2020
11 AM, Dale Melbourne Herklotz Conference Center, Center for Neurobiology of Learning and Memory (Building 506 on the campus map)
Kevin Beier, PhD
University of California, Irvine
Department of Physiology & Biophysics
Elucidating the sources of experience-dependent plasticity directing behavioral adaptation
Abstract: Our research program aims to identify how experiences change the brain to facilitate behavioral adaptation, where the critical changes occur, and also elucidate the molecular nature of these changes. We are particularly interested in pathological experience-dependent plasticity that underlies maladaptive behaviors, such as that triggered by drugs of abuse. Besides the current sociological relevance, addictive drugs can be used as probes of the nervous system in rodents. We can leverage our understanding of the receptors for each drug, where the receptors are located in the brain, and how signaling at these receptors alters neuronal function. Furthermore, we have complete control over how much drug is administered and when it is administered, allowing us to tune the nature of experience that the animal receives. In addition, different classes of abused substances elicit different behavioral effects, but repetitive use of each leads to addiction. Our main goals are to identify neuronal circuits and molecular changes 1) common to a variety of abused substances, including opiates, nicotine, and psychostimulants, 2) specific to each drug so that these observations can be used to tease apart the molecular and circuit substrates of basic reward and aversion behaviors. We use a variety of methods, including brain clearing/light sheet imaging, optogenetics, slice electrophysiology, in vivo imaging, and classic behavioral assays to achieve these goals.