Center for Behavioral Neuroscience

Atlanta, GA, United States

Center for Behavioral Neuroscience

Atlanta, GA, United States

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News Article | May 18, 2017
Site: www.latimes.com

Our Western diet is famously bad for the circulatory system, but for a long time, people thought the damage stopped there. Then around 10 years ago, Terry Davidson, a behavioral neuroscientist, wondered whether our modern eating habits might also affect our brains. To test it out, he fed lab rats a diet high in saturated fats and sugars. He found that the animals had problems learning various memory tasks for which they’d get rewards. Their difficulties were probably linked to changes in the way blood reaches a portion of the brain called the hippocampus. Researchers have detected similar impairments in people who consume lots of saturated fats, says Davidson, now director of the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience at American University in Washington. "There was no reason to think the brain would be protected, and it doesn't seem that it is," he says. The Western diet is just one among many hallmarks of modern life that may influence brain biology. From Big Macs to digital screens to the air pollution spewed from automobiles, researchers are exploring how all kinds of 21st century conveniences are changing the way the brain works — for better and for worse. Some are studying the impacts of computers and mobile phones. Dr. Gary Small, a geriatric psychiatrist and director of UCLA's Longevity Center, is one of them: He has used a brain-imaging tool called functional MRI to examine what happens in the brain when people conduct an Internet search. In one preliminary brain-imaging study of 24 adults ages 55 to 76, those accustomed to using online search engines had twofold greater overall brain activity while searching than did digital newbies. The finding suggests computer use had strengthened their brain circuitry. "We think brains are getting more efficient," Small says. "It's like you're building mental muscle." Small believes these Internet mental workouts could be harnessed to preserve memory as people age. But there's a downside: Research indicates that younger people who have grown up as digital natives have strong technology skills but lag on social skills and emotional intelligence. "How we use these devices has a big effect on our lives," Small says. Internet-induced multitasking poses a particular threat, argues neuroscientist Daniel Levitin of the Minerva Schools, a university based in San Francisco. That’s because focus is regularly diverted, and attention is divided among more tasks than the brain can manage at once. "There's a neurobiological cost," he says. "You burn glucose, the fuel of the brain, every time you switch tasks." What’s more, Levitin adds, researchers have shown that cognitive overload can trigger release of the stress hormone cortisol — which, in turn, tends to suppress the brain's ability to engage in careful, systematic thought. "Our brains get scrambled, we're not able to think clearly, and we lose productivity," he says. Environmental pollutants — such as auto emissions, as well as pesticide exposure among people in farming communities — could also be affecting brain health, some studies suggest. But researchers' understanding of how they do so, and how significant the effects, is incomplete, says Dr. Beate Ritz, an epidemiologist at UCLA. She adds that as exposure builds up over decades, these pollutants might contribute to cognitive decline as more and more of us live longer. "We're just beginning to understand it,” she says. Eight things you can do now that might reduce your odds of dementia later Why exercise is the best medicine for your brain How to give your brain a chemical boost, and whether you should


News Article | May 4, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

A University of Texas at Arlington team has won the 2017 Brain Bowl organized by University of Texas Health Science Center - San Antonio Center for Biomedical Neuroscience, beating out teams from Trinity University and the defending champions University of Texas at Dallas. The Brain Bowl is modeled after the 1960's quiz show University Challenge and includes three rounds of short answer questions that increase in difficulty with each round. The final round is comprised of a single complex challenge question, where teams wager points they have accumulated in the previous rounds. "All five members of our team are active members of my behavioral neuroscience laboratory," said Linda Perrotti, UTA associate professor of psychology and team mentor. "We made a victorious comeback to reclaim the title of Brain Bowl Champions after having lost it to UT Dallas in 2015. We also get to house the Brain Bowl Trophy on our campus for another year." The questions asked during Brain Bowl cover many fields of neuroscience research, including neurophysiology, neuroanatomy, neurochemistry, neuropharmacology and behavioral neuroscience. The Brain Bowl is sponsored annually by the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience at the University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio and is a premier event within Brain Awareness Week for the neuroscience community. The first Brain Bowl was held in 1998. To date, nine Texas universities have competed; Texas Lutheran, Saint Mary's, University of Texas San Antonio, Trinity, Southwestern, University of Texas at Austin, UTA, Baylor, and Texas A&M. In 2013, UTA won their first Brain Bowl against the then defending champs, Trinity University, and the University of Texas at San Antonio. The following year our team went on to successfully defend their championship in 2014. UTA psychology chair Perry Fuchs was one of those congratulating the team on this important success: "UTA's team took on this challenge of cross-disciplinary quiz knowledge about neuroscience and beat out great teams from across Texas," Perry said. "It also clearly reflects on the leadership of UTA in the growing field of neuroscience." Anthropology and biology 2016 graduate. Research technician in Dr. Perrotti's lab group. Intends to apply to graduate school for neuroscience doctorate to further research in neuronal cell signaling. Enjoys reading, music, walking, and Japanese culture. Psychology major, minoring in biology. Intends to complete a medical degree and doctorate to improve psychiatric health care. Enjoys reading, meditating and 80s music. Psychology major, will begin pursuing her doctorate in neuroscience at UTA starting in the Fall 2017 semester. Enjoys reading, cooking and hiking. Biology and psychology major. Intends to complete a doctorate in clinical psychology to help people struggling with mental health issues. Enjoys trying new foods, reading, learning random facts and reading comics. The University of Texas at Arlington is a Carnegie Research-1 "highest research activity" institution. With a projected global enrollment of close to 57,000, UTA is one of the largest institutions in the state of Texas. Guided by its Strategic Plan 2020 Bold Solutions|Global Impact, UTA fosters interdisciplinary research and education within four broad themes: health and the human condition, sustainable urban communities, global environmental impact, and data-driven discovery. UTA was recently cited by U.S. News & World Report as having the second lowest average student debt among U.S. universities. U.S. News & World Report lists UTA as having the fifth highest undergraduate diversity index among national universities. The University is a Hispanic-Serving Institution and is ranked as the top four-year college in Texas for veterans on Military Times' 2017 Best for Vets list.


Bourke C.H.,Emory University | Neigh G.N.,Emory University | Neigh G.N.,Center for Behavioral Neuroscience | Neigh G.N.,Comprehensive NeuroScience
Hormones and Behavior | Year: 2011

Evidence suggests that women are more susceptible to stress-related disorders than men. Animal studies demonstrate a similar female sensitivity to stress and have been used to examine the underlying neurobiology of sex-specific effects of stress. Although our understanding of the sex-specific effects of chronic adolescent stress has grown in recent years, few studies have reported the effects of adolescent stress on depressive-like behavior. The purpose of this study was to determine if a chronic mixed modality stressor (consisting of isolation, restraint, and social defeat) during adolescence (PND 37-49) resulted in differential and sustained changes in depressive-like behavior in male and female Wistar rats. Female rats exposed to chronic adolescent stress displayed decreased sucrose consumption, hyperactivity in the elevated plus maze, decreased activity in the forced swim test, and a blunted corticosterone response to an acute forced swim stress compared to controls during both adolescence (PND 48-57) and adulthood (PND 96-104). Male rats exposed to chronic adolescent stress did not manifest significant behavioral changes at either the end of adolescence or in adulthood. These data support the proposition that adolescence may be a stress sensitive period for females and exposure to stress during adolescence results in behavioral effects that persist in females. Studies investigating the sex-specific effects of chronic adolescent stress may lead to a better understanding of the sexually dimorphic incidence of depressive and anxiety disorders in humans and ultimately improve prevention and treatment strategies. © 2011 .


News Article | October 31, 2016
Site: www.eurekalert.org

ATLANTA-The brain regulates social behavior differently in males and females, according to a new study published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. A team of researchers led by Dr. Elliott Albers, director of the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience and Regents' Professor of Neuroscience at Georgia State University, and graduate student Joseph I. Terranova, has discovered that serotonin (5-HT) and arginine-vasopressin (AVP) act in opposite ways in males and females to influence aggression and dominance. Because dominance and aggressiveness have been linked to stress resistance, these findings may influence the development of more effective gender-specific treatment strategies for stress-related neuropsychiatric disorders. "These results begin to provide a neurochemical basis for understanding how the social brain works quite differently in males and females," said Albers. Prominent sex differences occur in the incidence, development and clinical course of many neuropsychiatric disorders. Women, for example, have higher rates of depression and anxiety disorders such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), while men more frequently suffer from autism and attention deficit disorder. Despite profound sex differences in the expression of social behavior and the incidence of these psychiatric disorders, little is known about how the brain mechanisms underlying these phenomena differ in females and males. Further, limited knowledge exists regarding sex differences in the efficacy of treatments for these disorders. As a result, current treatment strategies are largely the same for both sexes. In this study conducted in hamsters, the researchers investigated the hypothesis that 5-HT promotes and AVP inhibits aggression and dominance in females and that 5-HT inhibits and AVP promotes aggression and dominance in males. Their data show strong support for this hypothesis with the discovery that 5-HT and AVP act in opposite ways within the hypothalamus to regulate dominance and aggression in females and males. This study also found that administration of the 5-HT reuptake inhibitor fluoxetine, one of the most commonly prescribed drugs for psychiatric disorders, increased aggression in females and inhibited aggression in males. These studies raise the possibility that stress-related neuropsychiatric disorders such as PTSD may be more effectively treated with 5-HT-targeted drugs in women and with AVP-targeted drugs in men. The research team involved in this discovery included Dr. Zhimin Song, Tony E. Larkin, Nathan Hardcastle Alisa Norvelle and Ansa Riaz from Georgia State's Neuroscience Institute. The next step will be to investigate whether there are sex differences in the efficacy of 5-HT- and AVP-active drugs in reducing social stress. For more information on Dr. Elliott Albers and the research being conducted in his laboratory, visit http://neuroscience. . For more information on the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience, visit http://www. .


News Article | November 1, 2016
Site: www.sciencedaily.com

The brain regulates social behavior differently in males and females, according to a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. A team of researchers led by Dr. Elliott Albers, director of the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience and Regents' Professor of Neuroscience at Georgia State University, and graduate student Joseph I. Terranova, has discovered that serotonin (5-HT) and arginine-vasopressin (AVP) act in opposite ways in males and females to influence aggression and dominance. Because dominance and aggressiveness have been linked to stress resistance, these findings may influence the development of more effective gender-specific treatment strategies for stress-related neuropsychiatric disorders. "These results begin to provide a neurochemical basis for understanding how the social brain works quite differently in males and females," said Albers. Prominent sex differences occur in the incidence, development and clinical course of many neuropsychiatric disorders. Women, for example, have higher rates of depression and anxiety disorders such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), while men more frequently suffer from autism and attention deficit disorder. Despite profound sex differences in the expression of social behavior and the incidence of these psychiatric disorders, little is known about how the brain mechanisms underlying these phenomena differ in females and males. Further, limited knowledge exists regarding sex differences in the efficacy of treatments for these disorders. As a result, current treatment strategies are largely the same for both sexes. In this study conducted in hamsters, the researchers investigated the hypothesis that 5-HT promotes and AVP inhibits aggression and dominance in females and that 5-HT inhibits and AVP promotes aggression and dominance in males. Their data show strong support for this hypothesis with the discovery that 5-HT and AVP act in opposite ways within the hypothalamus to regulate dominance and aggression in females and males. This study also found that administration of the 5-HT reuptake inhibitor fluoxetine, one of the most commonly prescribed drugs for psychiatric disorders, increased aggression in females and inhibited aggression in males. These studies raise the possibility that stress-related neuropsychiatric disorders such as PTSD may be more effectively treated with 5-HT-targeted drugs in women and with AVP-targeted drugs in men. The research team involved in this discovery included Dr. Zhimin Song, Tony E. Larkin, Nathan Hardcastle Alisa Norvelle and Ansa Riaz from Georgia State's Neuroscience Institute. The next step will be to investigate whether there are sex differences in the efficacy of 5-HT- and AVP-active drugs in reducing social stress.


News Article | November 1, 2016
Site: www.chromatographytechniques.com

The brain regulates social behavior differently in males and females, according to a new study published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. A team of researchers led by Elliott Albers, director of the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience and Regents’ Professor of Neuroscience at Georgia State University, and graduate student Joseph I. Terranova, has discovered that serotonin (5-HT) and arginine-vasopressin (AVP) act in opposite ways in males and females to influence aggression and dominance. Because dominance and aggressiveness have been linked to stress resistance, these findings may influence the development of more effective gender-specific treatment strategies for stress-related neuropsychiatric disorders. “These results begin to provide a neurochemical basis for understanding how the social brain works quite differently in males and females,” said Albers. Prominent sex differences occur in the incidence, development and clinical course of many neuropsychiatric disorders. Women, for example, have higher rates of depression and anxiety disorders such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), while men more frequently suffer from autism and attention deficit disorder. Despite profound sex differences in the expression of social behavior and the incidence of these psychiatric disorders, little is known about how the brain mechanisms underlying these phenomena differ in females and males. Further, limited knowledge exists regarding sex differences in the efficacy of treatments for these disorders. As a result, current treatment strategies are largely the same for both sexes. In this study conducted in hamsters, the researchers investigated the hypothesis that 5-HT promotes and AVP inhibits aggression and dominance in females and that 5-HT inhibits and AVP promotes aggression and dominance in males. Their data show strong support for this hypothesis with the discovery that 5-HT and AVP act in opposite ways within the hypothalamus to regulate dominance and aggression in females and males. This study also found that administration of the 5-HT reuptake inhibitor fluoxetine, one of the most commonly prescribed drugs for psychiatric disorders, increased aggression in females and inhibited aggression in males. These studies raise the possibility that stress-related neuropsychiatric disorders such as PTSD may be more effectively treated with 5-HT-targeted drugs in women and with AVP-targeted drugs in men. The research team involved in this discovery included Zhimin Song, Tony E. Larkin, Nathan Hardcastle Alisa Norvelle and Ansa Riaz from Georgia State’s Neuroscience Institute. The next step will be to investigate whether there are sex differences in the efficacy of 5-HT- and AVP-active drugs in reducing social stress.


Meyer K.,Leibniz Institute for Neurobiology | Meyer K.,Otto Von Guericke University of Magdeburg | Korz V.,Otto Von Guericke University of Magdeburg | Korz V.,Center for Behavioral Neuroscience
Hormones and Behavior | Year: 2013

Estrogen and estrogenic functions are age-dependently involved in the modulation of learning, memory and mood in female humans and animals. However, the investigation of estrogenic effects in males has been largely neglected. Therefore, we investigated the hippocampal gene expression of estrogen receptors α and β (ERα, β) in 8-week-old, 12-week-old and 24-week-old male rats. To control for possible interactions between the expression of the estrogen receptor genes and other learning-related steroid receptors, androgen receptors (AR), corticosterone-binding glucocorticoid receptors (GR) and mineralocorticoid receptors (MR) were also measured. Furthermore, the concentrations of the ligands 17β-estradiol, testosterone and corticosterone were measured. The spatial training was conducted in a hole-board. The 8-week-old rats exhibited higher levels of general activity and exploration during the training and performed best with respect to spatial learning and memory, whereas no difference was found between the 12-week-old and 24-week-old rats. The trained 8-week-old rats exhibited increased gene expression of ERα compared with the untrained rats in this age group as well as the trained 12-week-old and 24-week-old rats. The concentrations of estradiol and testosterone, however, were generally higher in the 24-week-old rats than in the 8-week-old and 12-week-old rats. The ERα mRNA concentrations correlated positively with behavior that indicate general learning motivation. These results suggest a specific role of ERα in the age-related differences in motivation and subsequent success in the task. Thus, estrogen and estrogenic functions may play a more prominent role in young male behavior and development than has been previously assumed. © 2012 Elsevier Inc.


News Article | November 10, 2016
Site: www.chromatographytechniques.com

The tiny fruit fly can help humans investigate the genetic and neural bases of detecting painful or harmful cold stimuli and offer intriguing, potential implications for human health, according to a new study. A team of researchers led by Daniel N. Cox, associate professor of neuroscience at Georgia State University, has discovered that fruit flies have cold-sensing neurons that when activated drive specific, aversive behaviors to damaging cold, which requires the function of evolutionarily conserved ion channels known as Transient Receptor Potential (TRP) channels. In the journal Current Biology, the researchers establish the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, as a powerful genetic and behavioral model for unraveling questions about the cellular and molecular bases of damaging cold perception, which have not been well understood. The study explores the concept of nociception, the peripheral and central nervous systems' perception of painful or potentially tissue damaging stimuli, which is generated by activating sensory nerve cells called nociceptors. This evolutionarily conserved process is critically important for survival. Nociception, coupled with pain sensation, alerts an organism to possible environmental dangers and allows it to execute behavioral responses to protect against incipient damage. Acute and chronic pain can manifest as altered nociception in neuropathic pain states. The study found that one of the implicated TRP channel genes called Pkd2 has been causally linked to autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (PKD), the most common monogenic disease in humans. Pkd2 ion channels appear to function as cold sensors and misexpression of Pkd2 can confer cold sensitivity to normally insensitive neurons. While it is not yet known if PKD patients have cold nociception defects, these new findings suggest this merits further investigation as a potential non-invasive diagnostic. These same cold-sensing neurons also function as mechanosensors for touch, revealing that they, as well as the TRP channels identified in this study, are multimodal and raising the question of how neurons and ion channels distinguish between harmless and harmful stimuli to drive specific behavioral responses. Using sophisticated optical assays of neural activation by touch versus cold stimuli, the researchers demonstrate that these sensory neurons have different activation thresholds, with touch having a low threshold and cold having a high threshold, that ultimately determine the appropriate behavioral response. "This new model sets the stage for uncovering evolutionarily conserved molecular control of nociception," said Cox. "It also provides a powerful genetic platform for unraveling the neural circuitry and molecular mechanisms that integrate multimodal sensory input to produce specific behaviors in response to diverse environmental stimuli." The research team included Kevin Armengol, Atit A. Patel, Nathaniel J. Himmel, Luis Sullivan, Dr. Srividya C. Iyer and Dr. Eswar P.R. Iyer of the Cox Lab at Georgia State's Neuroscience Institute and Center for Behavioral Neuroscience, and collaborators Heather N. Turner and Michael J. Galko from MD Anderson Cancer Center. The next steps will be to dissect the neural circuitry, additional molecular players and synaptic mechanisms that modulate cold nociception and multimodal sensory processing.


News Article | November 10, 2016
Site: www.sciencedaily.com

The tiny fruit fly can help humans investigate the genetic and neural bases of detecting painful or harmful cold stimuli and offer intriguing, potential implications for human health, according to a new study. A team of researchers led by Dr. Daniel N. Cox, associate professor of neuroscience at Georgia State University, has discovered that fruit flies have cold-sensing neurons that when activated drive specific, aversive behaviors to damaging cold, which requires the function of evolutionarily conserved ion channels known as Transient Receptor Potential (TRP) channels. In the journal Current Biology, the researchers establish the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, as a powerful genetic and behavioral model for unraveling questions about the cellular and molecular bases of damaging cold perception, which have not been well understood. The study explores the concept of nociception, the peripheral and central nervous systems' perception of painful or potentially tissue damaging stimuli, which is generated by activating sensory nerve cells called nociceptors. This evolutionarily conserved process is critically important for survival. Nociception, coupled with pain sensation, alerts an organism to possible environmental dangers and allows it to execute behavioral responses to protect against incipient damage. Acute and chronic pain can manifest as altered nociception in neuropathic pain states. The study found that one of the implicated TRP channel genes called Pkd2 has been causally linked to autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (PKD), the most common monogenic disease in humans. Pkd2 ion channels appear to function as cold sensors and misexpression of Pkd2 can confer cold sensitivity to normally insensitive neurons. While it is not yet known if PKD patients have cold nociception defects, these new findings suggest this merits further investigation as a potential non-invasive diagnostic. These same cold-sensing neurons also function as mechanosensors for touch, revealing that they, as well as the TRP channels identified in this study, are multimodal and raising the question of how neurons and ion channels distinguish between harmless and harmful stimuli to drive specific behavioral responses. Using sophisticated optical assays of neural activation by touch versus cold stimuli, the researchers demonstrate that these sensory neurons have different activation thresholds, with touch having a low threshold and cold having a high threshold, that ultimately determine the appropriate behavioral response. "This new model sets the stage for uncovering evolutionarily conserved molecular control of nociception," said Cox. "It also provides a powerful genetic platform for unraveling the neural circuitry and molecular mechanisms that integrate multimodal sensory input to produce specific behaviors in response to diverse environmental stimuli." The research team included Kevin Armengol, Atit A. Patel, Nathaniel J. Himmel, Luis Sullivan, Dr. Srividya C. Iyer and Dr. Eswar P.R. Iyer of the Cox Lab at Georgia State's Neuroscience Institute and Center for Behavioral Neuroscience, and collaborators Heather N. Turner and Michael J. Galko from MD Anderson Cancer Center. The next steps will be to dissect the neural circuitry, additional molecular players and synaptic mechanisms that modulate cold nociception and multimodal sensory processing.


News Article | November 10, 2016
Site: www.eurekalert.org

ATLANTA-The tiny fruit fly can help humans investigate the genetic and neural bases of detecting painful or harmful cold stimuli and offer intriguing, potential implications for human health, according to a new study. A team of researchers led by Dr. Daniel N. Cox, associate professor of neuroscience at Georgia State University, has discovered that fruit flies have cold-sensing neurons that when activated drive specific, aversive behaviors to damaging cold, which requires the function of evolutionarily conserved ion channels known as Transient Receptor Potential (TRP) channels. In the journal Current Biology, the researchers establish the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, as a powerful genetic and behavioral model for unraveling questions about the cellular and molecular bases of damaging cold perception, which have not been well understood. The study explores the concept of nociception, the peripheral and central nervous systems' perception of painful or potentially tissue damaging stimuli, which is generated by activating sensory nerve cells called nociceptors. This evolutionarily conserved process is critically important for survival. Nociception, coupled with pain sensation, alerts an organism to possible environmental dangers and allows it to execute behavioral responses to protect against incipient damage. Acute and chronic pain can manifest as altered nociception in neuropathic pain states. The study found that one of the implicated TRP channel genes called Pkd2 has been causally linked to autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (PKD), the most common monogenic disease in humans. Pkd2 ion channels appear to function as cold sensors and misexpression of Pkd2 can confer cold sensitivity to normally insensitive neurons. While it is not yet known if PKD patients have cold nociception defects, these new findings suggest this merits further investigation as a potential non-invasive diagnostic. These same cold-sensing neurons also function as mechanosensors for touch, revealing that they, as well as the TRP channels identified in this study, are multimodal and raising the question of how neurons and ion channels distinguish between harmless and harmful stimuli to drive specific behavioral responses. Using sophisticated optical assays of neural activation by touch versus cold stimuli, the researchers demonstrate that these sensory neurons have different activation thresholds, with touch having a low threshold and cold having a high threshold, that ultimately determine the appropriate behavioral response. "This new model sets the stage for uncovering evolutionarily conserved molecular control of nociception," said Cox. "It also provides a powerful genetic platform for unraveling the neural circuitry and molecular mechanisms that integrate multimodal sensory input to produce specific behaviors in response to diverse environmental stimuli." The research team included Kevin Armengol, Atit A. Patel, Nathaniel J. Himmel, Luis Sullivan, Dr. Srividya C. Iyer and Dr. Eswar P.R. Iyer of the Cox Lab at Georgia State's Neuroscience Institute and Center for Behavioral Neuroscience, and collaborators Heather N. Turner and Michael J. Galko from MD Anderson Cancer Center. The next steps will be to dissect the neural circuitry, additional molecular players and synaptic mechanisms that modulate cold nociception and multimodal sensory processing. For more information on Dr. Daniel N. Cox and the research being conducted in his laboratory, visit http://neuroscience. . For more information on the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience, visit http://www. .

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