Experimental Approaches

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


Operant ChamberWe 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 thisĀ video to learn more about optogenetics.


ImmunohistochemistryGFP Neuron

We often examine the impact of optogenetic stimulation on the brain by using immunohistochemical techniques to look at the expression of immediate early genes (IEGs) to assess levels of activity. We also examine levels of viral infection in optogenetic procedures as depicted in the image.