Sensory regulation of dopaminergic neurons
The neurotransmitter dopamine is implicated in a wide range of brain processes and dysfunction of the dopamine systems leads to severe neurological and psychiatric problems. However, the precise function of the dopamine signal is still being hotly debated. Our approach to this problem has been to study the properties of the systems which supply information to the dopamine systems, in particular those which provide sensory information. Recent evidence suggests that dopamine systems receive visual information from the superior colliculus, a relatively primitive multimodal structure in the midbrain. This has important implications for the kind of information which the dopamine signal can carry, but we’re unsure how generalizable these implications are – i.e. whether the colliculus is also the source of other sensory inputs to the dopamine systems. That said, both the colliculus and dopamine systems both respond to auditory stimuli, and hence the visual circuitry may generalise to audition. This issue will be investigated using a combination of in vivo extracellular recording and tract tracing neuroanatomy. The eventual decoding of the dopamine signal will not only shed light on important aspects of brain function but will ultimately lead to the development of new treatments for dopamine-related disorders.
This is one of many projects in competition for the current funding opportunities available within the Department of Psychology. Please see here for full details: http://www.sheffield.ac.uk/psychology/prospectivepg/funding
Overseas students are welcome to apply for funding but must be able to demonstrate that they can fund the difference in the tuition fees.
Requirements: We ask for a minimum of a first class or high upper second-class undergraduate honours degree and a distinction or high merit at Masters level in psychology or a related discipline.
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FTE Category A staff submitted: 34.45
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