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Neurophysiology and Behavior Lab

University of Mississippi


Keywords: Neuronal activity, dopamine, NMDA receptors, glucocorticoids, prefrontal cortex, amygdala, ventral tegmental area, learning and memory, social behavior, physical activity, motor and cognitive behavior, stress, anxiety, psychiatric disorders, drug addiction, in vivo electrophysiology, EEG


Aversive and stressful, but not rewarding, experiences can impair cognitive/social behavior and facilitate the development of psychiatric disorders and drug addiction. The neurobiological mechanisms associated with these deleterious effects of stress are not well understood. The response to stress involves the activation/inhibition of specific neuronal ensembles and circuits in key areas of the brains such as the prefrontal cortex. We work to identify how and when the neuronal response to aversive experiences leads to cognitive and social impairments.

Our laboratory utilizes the chronic implantation of electrode arrays in the brain to record neuronal activity in behaving animals.

Research questions:

Tracking the neuronal response to aversive and rewarding events. How does the brain represent aversive and rewarding events? How do repetitive stress and anxiety change this neuronal representation?

Social stress, neuronal ensembles and cognitive behavior. How and when repetitive social stress impairs cognitive behavior? Which are the neuronal changes that cause stress-induced cognitive impairments?

Translational Research:

Our laboratory works in collaboration with the Cognition and Neuromechanics Laboratory, School of Engineering, to better understand the neuronal correlates of motor and cognitive behavior in human subjects.