My research concerns mechanisms controlling the perinatal sexual differentiation and adult activation of neural circuits that control courtship behaviors in mice. One project uses transgenic mice in which the Cyp-19 (aromatase) gene has been disabled to study the role of the sex hormone, estradiol, in the differentiation of female-typical aspects of courtship behavior, including neural responses to conspecifics’ pheromones. Another project concerns the interaction between the main and accessory olfactory nervous systems in the control of mate recognition and sexual motivation in male and female mice. Techniques that I use include brain immunocytochemistry to localize neuronal immediate-early gene products, steroid hormone receptors and several neuropeptides; in situ hybridization autoradiography to localize and quantify mRNAs for pheromone receptors in the vomeronasal organ; the quantitative analysis of appetitive and consummatory mating behaviors as well as operant methods for assessing animals’ ability to detect pheromones as well as their sexual partner preferences; brain infusions of neurotoxins, tract tracers and neuropeptides to study the olfactory mechanisms controlling sociosexual behaviors; and new optogenetic methods for selectively activating or silencing main vs accessory bulb neurons thought to convey pheromonal information to the forebrain.
- Dr. James Cherry, Dept. of Psychology, Boston University
- Dr. Julie Bakker, Dept. of Biochemistry, University of Liege, Belgium
Welcome Back! (Summer 2015)
1) The Society for Behavioral Neuroendocrinology (SBN) awarded Professor of Biology Michael Baum the 2014 Daniel S. Lehrman Lifetime Achievement Award in Behavioral Neuroendocrinology. The award honors the lifetime achievement of the most distinguished investigators in the field. Baum has made many pivotal contributions to our understanding of the mechanisms underlying sex differences in the brain and behavior.
2) Updated “Lab Meeting” schedule for Summer 2015 is posted in the “Internal Use” tab. (Friday 10:00-11:00 am) Donuts and coffee are served at every lab meeting!