Andrew M. Farrar
The basal ganglia are a highly-interconnected network of sub-cortical brain structures that are essential for the execution of voluntary motor behavior. In addition to motor output, the basal ganglia are also involved in cognitive processes, including learning and memory, decision making, and motivation. The transmission of neural information throughout the basal ganglia is governed by complex neurochemical interactions, ultimately giving rise to behavioral output. My research utilizes behavioral, in vivo neurochemical, and genetic approaches to understand how function of the basal ganglia contributes to complex behavioral functions. Additionally, by employing genetically-modified animal models of disease (e.g., mouse models of Huntington's disease), we can study how dysfunction of basal ganglia circuitry contributes to behavioral disturbances that closely resemble disease symptoms in humans.
Ongoing efforts are aimed at characterizing cognitive, behavioral and neurochemical phenotypic differences between rat strains, coupled with next-generation sequencing methods, to ultimately determine the genetic basis of individual differences in behavior and susceptibility to neurological disease at a mechanistic level.
- PhD, University of Connecticut, 2009
- Postdoctoral training, Rutgers Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience