Areas of Interest
Endocrine Systems and Behavior, Avian Endocrinology and Behavior, Physiological Psychology, Hormones and Behavior, Emotional and Animal Communication, Emotional Brain, Affective Neuroscience.
Memberships and Professional Service
Member of Society of Neuroscience, International Society of Neuroethology, New York Academy of Science, American Association for the Advancement of Science, International Society of Psychoneuroendocrinology, International Congress of Hormones, Brain and Behavior, International Congress of Avian Endocrinology.
Grants, Honors, and Awards
NICHD, "Brain Damage and Recovery of Function in the Adult System," 2006-2010; Charles and Johanna Busch Memorial Fund, "Facilitation of Lesion-Induced Neurogenesis in the Adult Brain: The Role of Estrogen," 2005-2007; NINDS, "Brain Repair & Functional Recovery of Neurogenesis," 1998-2003; Award for Excellence in Research, Rutgers Board of Trustee, 1998; Hoechst Calanese Innovative Research Award, 1993; Johnson & Johnson Discovery Award, 1989-1990; Research Science Development Awardee, 1974-1979, 1979-1984.
Academic Interests and Plans
My lab is exploring the possible relevance of environmental sounds, including those emitted from an individual's own vocal behavior, to emotional state. Through our research, we have discovered that the brain region controlling vocal behavior and the regions processing auditory information are connected to the hypothalamus, the power house of endocrine control. The objective of our current research, involving the use of behavioral observation, neuronatomical tracing and immunohistochemical methods and electrophysiological studies of birds, is to demonstrate how pleasing sounds, such as courtship coos, are transcribed through the auditory relay to the hypothalamus which triggers the pituitary-ovarian response and brain opioid response. These studies represent a research foundation for future investigations into the brain mechanism of sounds, emotion and health.
Recovery of function following brain injury is one of today's most pressing health issues. While it is commonly held that unlike bodily systems, the brain of adult mammals is incapable of replacing neurons following injury because neurogenesis stops after birth, there is recent evidence to the contrary. Thus, the possibility has been raised that neurogenesis may play a role in brain repair. The objective of our research is to determine if lesions in discrete areas of the brain promote neuronal productions and whether this facilitates recovery of function. The hypothalamus of the ring dove provides a unique tool to pursue this issue. The adult hypothalamus contains acoustic units that control reproductive endocrine output and projection neurons that control courtship song. These neurons can be identified or measured by electrophysiological properties or by endocrine output or by neuronal tracing method. Replacement of these neurons therefore can be traced. Using tritiated thymidine and immunohistochemical stain for thymidine analogue (BrdU) and neuron-specific antibodies followed by laser confocal imaging analysis, we identify newborn neurons and seek to determine if neurogenesis is a viable alternative process for brain repair and potential therapeutic opportunity. We are also exploring the role of social context and steroid hormones in cell repair and recovery of function in the adult brain.