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Elena Vazey

Assistant Professor

Our lab focuses on understanding neural circuits that integrate cognitive and motor control of behavior. To do this we use a range of electrophysiological, genetic, anatomical and behavioral techniques in rodent models. We are particularly interested in how modulatory clusters alter activity in distal target networks and modify behavioral output. We are also interested in how the loss of specific neural populations in neurodegenerative disorders impacts broader neural networks and motor function. Our overarching goals are to characterize the neural and physiological mechanisms underlying cognitive and motor behavior to apply this information in identifying treatments for circuit dysfunction in disease

Current Research
Our current research focuses on the influence of locus coeruleus norephinephrine input to cortical targets. We are interested in how changes in firing patterns of locus coeruleus neurons alter function of different cortical regions, and how this may impact cortical processing of incoming sensory information and responses to sensory cues. We are investigating how locus coeruleus integrity and noradrenergic function impacts decision execution and motor planning in normal functioning subjects as well as models of pathological states that disrupt cognitive function including neurodegenerative disorders, chronic stress, and attention deficit disorder.

Learn more at www.bio.umass.edu/biology/about/directories/faculty/elena-vazey

Academic Background

  • BS University of Auckland, NZ, 2003
  • PhD University of Auckland, NZ, 2009
  • Postdoctoral Training Medical University of South Carolina
Keren NI, Taheri S, Vazey EM, Morgan PS, Aston-Jones G, and Eckert MA. (2015) Histological validation of locus coeruleus MRI contrast in Alzheimer’s disease tissue. Neuroimage Jun;113:235-45.
Fortress AM, Hamlett ED, Vazey EM, Cass WA, Boger HA and Granholm A-C. (2015) Designer receptors enhance memory in a mouse model of Down syndrome. Journal of Neuroscience Jan 28; 35(4) 1343-53.
Vazey EM and Aston-Jones G. (2014) Designer receptor manipulations reveal role of locus coeruleus noradrenergic system in isoflurane general anesthesia. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Mar 11;111(10):3859-64.
Vazey EM and Aston-Jones G. (2013) New tricks for old dogmas: Optogenetic and designer receptor insights for Parkinson’s disease. Brain Research. May 20;1511:153-63.
Vazey EM and Aston-Jones, G. (2012) The emerging role of norepinephrine in cognitive dysfunctions of Parkinson’s Disease. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 2012;6:48.
Vazey EM, Hinson VK, Granholm A-C, Eckert MA, Aston-Jones G. (2012). Norepinephrine in neurodegeneration: A coerulean target. Journal of Alzheimer's disease and Parkinsonism. 2:e114.
Vazey EM, Dottori M, Jamshidi P, Tomas D, Pera MF, Horne MK, Connor B. (2010) Comparison of Transplant Efficiency Between Spontaneously-Derived and Noggin-Primed Human Embryonic Stem Cell Neural Precursors in the Quinolinic Acid Rat Model of Huntington’s Disease. Cell Transplantation, 19(8):1055-62.
Vazey EM and Connor B. (2009) In vitro priming to direct neuronal fate in adult neural progenitor cells. Experimental Neurology, 216(2):520-4.
Vazey EM, Chen K, Hughes SM, Connor B. (2006) Transplanted adult neural progenitor cells survive, differentiate and reduce motor function impairment in a rodent model of Huntington’s disease. Experimental Neurology, 199(2):384-96.
Contact Info

Department of Biology
413 Morrill
North Pleasant Street
Amherst, MA 01003-9292

(413) 545-8659