We use a variety of techniques to study the generation of Motivation, Reward & Desire both at a behavioral and neuronal level in the rat brain
We study the functional properties of neurons and circuits by manipulating neural activity with optogenetics and pharmacogenetics while monitoring effects on animal behavior in real-time. Behavioral approaches include: Autoshaping, Operant Conditioning, Conditioned Place Preference, Taste Reactivity, Elevated Plus Maze, Locomotor Sensitization
We often use light-activated ion channels, which are virally or genetically located on neurons in the brain. These targeted neurons become light sensitive which allows us to control their activity by stimulating or inhibiting them using focused laser light. This technique allows us to examine the neural underpinnings of behavior. Watch this video to learn more about optogenetics.