Our lab examines how neuromodulators are encoded in the mesolimbic and nigrostriatal systems and how circuit dysfunctions in these areas contribute to neurological and psychiatric disorders. Dopamine, acetylcholine and serotonin play key roles in the basal ganglia and nucleus accumbens, controlling a variety of motivated behaviors including decision-making, action selection, motor skill learning, habit formation and reward processing. We use the combination of electrophysiology, 2-photon imaging, optogenetics, genetically encoded optical sensors, electrochemistry and behavioral approaches to study how synaptic transmission mediated by these neuromodulators is encoded within mesolimbic and nigrostriatal circuits. By identifying the mechanisms regulating metabotropic transmission we aim to identify the disruptions in these systems that underlie psychiatric disorders such as drug addiction and schizophrenia and neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease.
A current description of current research in Dr. Ford’s lab can be found here:
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Current members of the Ford lab can be found here: