Behavioural Neuroscience Laboratory (BNL) - Department of Physiology
Research conducted at the Behavioural Neuroscience Laboratory at the Department of Physiology is aimed at elucidating the underlying neurobiology of behavioural processes and mechanisms through which drugs affect brain and behaviour in humans. In a broad sense, this laboratory focuses on research that; (i) examines the behavioural, molecular and functional effects of neuropharmcological agents, (ii) examines the neurobiology of behavioural processes including cognition and emotion and (iii) provides insight into the biological basis of neuropsychiatric and neurological disorders. Research encompasses basic and clinical domains, utilizing existing and novel methodologies in pharmacology, neuropsychology, electrophysiology and functional and molecular neuroimaging.
Current Research Interests
This figure shows a PET Image of the distribution of Nicotinic receptors in the brain using 18F-A-85380 and PET Imaging. Highest binding observed in the thalamus, followed by the midbrain, pons and cerebellum. Studies are underway to examine the distribution of nicotinic receptors in patients with Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease and to examine how these changes correlate with cognitive decline.
This figure shows brain areas (examined with fMRI) or brain networks associated with regulation of negative emotion. Inhibition of negative affect is associated with increased activation in the dorsal anterior cingulated, dorsal medial prefrontal cortex, lateral prefrontal cortex and decreased activation within the limbic regions (i.e. nucleus accumbens, extended amygdala).
This figure shows the effects of the antidepressant drug, citalopram (a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) on cortical brain activity (using steady state probe topography) associated with emotional processing. Figure shows that there in an increase in brain activity in the cortex during processing of negative stimuli and that this activity is suppressed when serotonin levels are increased using citalopram. Findings suggest that antidepressants drugs could work by suppressing the activity of overactive neural circuits associated with emotion.