Assistant Professor of Biology, Karine Fenelon, and her team, work on pre-attentive neuronal mechanisms, using mice. These mechanisms are essential for effective brain function, as impairments lead to cognitive overload and deficits in attention.
Last month, the team showed how the amygdala, a brain region typically associated with fear, greatly contributes to such pre-attentive mechanisms, by activating small inhibitory neurons in the brainstem.
Karine's team are the first to show the key role of these small inhibitory neurons in pre-attentive mechanisms, and their research was published in the BMC Biology journal. Deficits in pre-attentive mechanisms are a hallmark of schizophrenia but are also seen in other neuropsychiatric disorders.
Currently, the reversal of pre-attentive deficits in animal models is a gold standard for antipsychotic drug screening.
Karine's team is excited to report that their next step is to attempt to reverse pre-attentive deficits in a world renown mouse model of schizophrenia. They received these mice at UMass last month, from Karine's former postdoc mentor at Columbia University (New York).
Read more about their work HERE.
Department of Biology