Neuroscience Faculty Research
Dr. Anya Goldina's Lab
Behavioral endocrinology lab
The ability to survive in one’s environment is highly dependent on the animal’s ability to identify social status, mating willingness, and competition state of other individuals within its social group. Animals use multiple sources of information to learn about their environment and to assess their own status within a social hierarchy. In my lab, we use local crayfish species to understand how social environment and social experience mediate social status establishment. Crayfish communicate by releasing chemical signals into the water, which communicate information about individual molt status, sex, social status, and species identity. We are particularly interested in understanding how social experience combines with the chemical signals that crayfish perceive from other individuals around them to modify their behavior. We are also comparing chemical communication in native and invasive crayfish species in the local watersheds. Current projects in the lab focus on examining species-specific responses to chemical signals produced by invasive and native crustacean species in different social contexts. We hope to apply our findings in developing more effective methods for preventing and eradicating invasive crustaceans.
Current projects include:
- Discrimination behavior of invasive crayfish species to diverse chemical signals
- Assessing the relationship between chemical communication and social experience
- The effect of social status on serotonin sensitivity
- Role of communication networks in social experience and social status stability
Dr. Robert Wickham's Lab
Rapid changes in dopamine levels in the brain are critical for the experience of euphoria, pain, stress, and anxiety. My lab aims to understand how these rapid changes in dopamine levels are regulated at dopamine neuron cell bodies, where they receive a variety of neurotransmitter inputs from a wide range of cortical and subcortical brain areas. Currently, my lab is addressing how long-term exposure to menthol—a commonly added flavorant to combustible and electronic cigarettes, regulates these rapid changes in dopamine levels. We are also examining the behavioral effects of menthol exposure across the development, as users of mentholated products are primarily adolescent or young adults.
Current projects include:
- Exploring how chronic menthol exposure alters the levels and kinetics of dopamine neurotransmission
- Identifying taste of menthol is tolerated differentially between adolescent and adult rats