Ongoing Research

Effects of SCN lesions on depression and navigational learning

Disruption of biological rhythms can have negative consequences for mood and cognitive functions. The current study investigates the effects of bilateral damage to the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), Psychobiology Laboratorya regulator of circadian rhythms, in male and female rats on depression as measured by behavioral despair and performance in the Morris water maze.

The effects of ketamine as an antidepressant tested with different animal models of depression

We showed that an anesthetic dose of ketamine, a dissociative non-competitive N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) antagonist, has a prolonged ameliorative effect on behavioral despair, an animal model of depression. We are currently testing the potential ameliorative effect of different doses of ketamine in a recently developed model of depression, namely the Open Space Swimming Test.

Psychobiology Laboratory

The effects of the BNST lesions on animal models of depression and anxiety.

Our laboratory showed in both female and male Wistar rats that the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST), a limbic structure mediating response to stress via the HPA axis, is involved in behavioral despair. A study in progress aims to generalize our findings by investigating the potential involvement of the BNST in a different animal model of depression, the Open Space Swim Test. Our research on the BNST also aims to Psychobiology Laboratoryelucidate the role of this structure in fear and anxiety.

Ameliorative effect of light pulses on depression

Our laboratory showed that a single 12-hour exposure to light during the dark phase of a 12h:12h Light:Dark lighting schedule has an ameliorative effect on behavioral despair. Ongoing research aims to discover the parameters of photic stimulation that will optimize the ameliorative effect of light on depression.

Design of an adaptive Brain Machine Interface algorithm

We investigate the spiking patterns in neural ensembles of rat brain in vivo to develop our comprehending of synaptic plasticity in rat motor cortex and advance more efficient Brain Machine Interface algorithms by means of combining machine learning and computational neuroscience.

A fully open source real-time data acquisition and visualization program developed in our lab for BMI research is available here. The program is designed on Linux operating system with RTAI (Real-Time Application Interface, www.rtai.org) extension, and the drivers and libraries developed by the COMEDI Project (Linux Control and Measurement Devices Interface, www.comedi.org) are used for facilitating management of the data acquisition hardware (National Instruments PCI-6070E). The instructions for establishment of RTAI with COMEDI support are available here.