I work in mouse models to uncover the molecular mechanisms in mesocorticolimbic regions that permit us to learn new goal-directed behaviors, maintain motivation, and exert control over impulsive and habitual actions.
Because these abilities are often altered in neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism and ADHD, understanding the molecular keys to these abilities may reveal what makes these brains unique and identify new therapeutic avenues. In addition, because neurodevelopmental disorders are far more common in boys than in girls, I am invested in understanding how sex differences impact the development of these cognitive abilities.
In the long term, I want to uncover how we use feedback to learn new behaviors, and what differentiates the times we are able to use feedback to make optimal choices from the times we ignore feedback and end up making habitual or impulsive choices.
- animal learning and behavior
- Developmental Disabilities: Autism Spectrum Disorder, Down Syndrome, Fragile X Syndrome
- Behavioral neuroscience
- mouse models of psychiatric conditions
- transcriptional and epigenetic mechanisms
- motivation and cognitive control