The overall goal of my research program is to use a multi-level approach, combining molecular biology, anatomy, genetics and behavioral neuroscience, to understand the role of cortico-basal ganglia circuitry in the development of behaviors that are associated with drug reward and addiction, as well as in the processes that underlie decision-making, motivation and impulsivity.
To accomplish these goals, my laboratory employs a novel chemical-genetic approach that uses viral vectors to express artificial, engineered G-protein coupled receptors (known as DREADD receptors) in discrete neuronal cell populations in rodents. Activation of DREADD receptors by the otherwise inert synthetic ligand clozapine-N-Oxide will lead to transient alterations in neuronal activity (either increasing or decreasing cell function depending on which G-protein coupled DREADD receptor is expressed) of the targeted cell populations. This neuronal modulation can be paired with specific phases of the behaviors that we study, including psychostimulant-induced behavioral sensitization, drug self-administration and operant learning tasks, in order to parse out the neural circuitry that contributes to behaviors associated with addiction and other neuropsychiatric disorders.
Neuropsychopharmacology 45(8): 1251-1262
O'Neal TJ, Nooney MN, Thien K, Ferguson SM
(2019 Sep 10)
Campus P, Covelo IR, Kim Y, Parsegian A, Kuhn BN, Lopez SA, Neumaier JF, Ferguson SM, Solberg Woods LC, Sarter M, Flagel SB
Psychopharmacology (Berl) 237(1): 55-68
Crummy EA, Donckels EA, Baskin BM, Bentzley BS, Ferguson SM
Neuropsychopharmacology 44(10): 1752-1761
Anastasio NC, Stutz SJ, Price AE, Davis-Reyes BD, Sholler DJ, Ferguson SM, Neumaier JF, Moeller FG, Hommel JD, Cunningham KA
(2018 Oct 2)
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 115(40): 9851-9858
Christakis DA, Ramirez JSB, Ferguson SM, Ravinder S, Ramirez JM
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