Department of Psychology
The main thrust of my research program in nonhuman primates is to investigate the role of the medial temporal structures and their interconnections with cortical areas on learning and memory, regulation of emotions, and social skills. This program of research not only provides information on the neural basis of these cognitive functions in the mature animal, it also investigates (a) the functional development of temporo-prefrontal circuits, (b) the long-term consequences of neonatal versus adult insult to different nodes of this neural network on the maturation of cognitive functions, (c) the anatomical organization of the efferent projection systems to the medial temporal lobe structures and prefrontal cortex, and (d) the anatomical reorganization of these efferent systems as a result of early lesions to specific nodes in the temporo-prefrontal circuit. Considering that dysfunction of the temporo-prefrontal circuit contributes to behavioral changes accompanying several devastating neurological and neuropsychiatric disorders, including dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia, and autism, this unique program of research in monkeys will ultimately lead to the discovery of ways in which such disorders can be alleviated or even eliminated.
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