Exjobbsförslag från företag

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Förslaget inkom 2011-02-23

Optogenetic and genetic dissection of the limbic system

Disturbances in the limbic system are found in neuropsychiatric disorders such as major depression and in the development of addiction. Surprisingly little is known about the specific contributions of neuronal subclasses in circuits of the limbic system to reward-related behaviors and addiction. The main limitation of in vivo investigations in the limbic system has been the lack of specificity in manipualtion of functionally distinct neuronal classes. The genetic and optogenetic approach allows for the identification of signaling pathways in neuronal subclasses responsible for specific behaviors as well as the specific modulation of neuronal activity in genetically defined neuronal populations during active animal behavior. GABAergic interneurons are powerful modulators of local circuit function through inhibitory actions and generation of oscillations. My laboratory applies genetic and optogenetic approaches to determine how GABAergic interneurons of the limbic system impact on the local circuits and directly shape animal behaviors. We also characterize the inputs, both local and long-range, that in turn regulate the recruitment and function of GABAergic interneurons through transsynaptic tracing as well as genetic disruptions of dopamine and serotonin neurotransmission in GABAergic interneurons. Dopamine signaling and the dopamine circuit are thought to be critical for reward and addiction, and dopamine receptors are expressed on GABAergic interneurons. Likewise, serotonin receptors on GABAergic interneurons modulates their impact on the local circuits but the contribution of these direct actions on GABAergic interneurons to reward-related behaviors has not been determined.
Our research will provide the foundation for the development of therapeutic strategies that specifically target GABAergic interneurons for disorders of the reward system including major depression and addiction.
We are looking for an enthusiastic and motivated student that wants to contribute to our group and learn new and exciting ways of doing neuroscience.


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