The substances that we consume can affect behavior and cognition by ultimately altering the ways in which brain cells communicate with one another. The work in my laboratory analyzes the impact that drugs of abuse (such as prescription painkillers and alcohol) and obesogenic food (i.e. fast food) have on synaptic plasticity in the dorsal striatum, a brain region involved in the control of goal-directed and habitual actions. The dorsal striatum also plays a significant role in addiction, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and obsessive compulsive disorder, among others. We use cutting-edge tools such as optogenetics, mutant mice, electrophysiology, neurochemistry, and mouse models of drug abuse and obesity. We hope that by understanding how these substances alter normal neuronal communication that we can lay the groundwork for future discoveries to identify new therapeutics for treating drug abuse and obesity.
In my personal life, I enjoy cooking, modern art, rock music, and spending time with my wife and three children. I am also a Tolkien and Star Wars nerd.