Diane Kelly

Research Assistant Professor

Research areas include neuromodulation and circuit mapping and function.

Current Research

We examine the sex-specific modulation of neural circuitry in the mammalian brain. Sex differences in the brain are often identified by dimorphisms in the size and number of neurons within specific regions; we have recently identified one region that also has sex-specific expression of one type of estrogen receptor. This discovery, in a region associated with reproductive and social behaviors as well as the modulation of stress and anxiety, makes it possible to investigate how differences in protein expression within neurons may influence male and female behaviors.

One challenge to determining how sex differences in protein expression can affect the neuronal activity within this brain region is identifying the relevant connectome: sexually dimorphic regions contain neurons that make hundreds, if not thousands of connections, and it is difficult to tease out which neurons are part of dimorphic circuits. In conjunction with the Bergan lab, we are using immunohistochemistry and three-dimensional imaging of the sexually dimorphic protein as a marker to trace connectomes within this region in the brains of male and female mice. Future work in the lab will include electrophysiological and optogenetic techniques to investigate how these circuits affect behavior.

Learn more at www.dianeakelly.com

Academic Background

  • AB University of Chicago 1990
  • PhD Duke University 1997
Kelly, D. A., M. M. Varnum, A. A. Krentzel, S. Krug and N. G. Forger 2013. Differential control of sex differences in estrogen receptor α in the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis and anteroventral periventricular nucleus. Endocrinology 154(10): 3836-3846. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1210/en.2013-1239
Contact Info

Department Psychological and Brain Science

Life Science Laboratories N235

240 Thatcher Way

University of Massachusetts

Amherst MA 01003

(413) 531-7226