My research involves studying rodent models of neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disorders.
The main neurodevelopmental disorder I have focused on is fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs), which includes fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) and other maternal alcohol-related deficits. Rodents are used to help explain the phenomenology, teratology, and neuropathology seen in human cases of FASDs. Currently, I am examining whether early alcohol exposure in rodents leads to learning deficits as measured by eyeblink classical conditioning, the most well-studied form of associative learning in mammalian neuroscience. To determine whether the early alcohol insult also results in brain dysfunction that correlates with the behavioral deficits, I use a variety of histological, histochemical, and morphometric techniques. It is hoped that answers about alcohol's impact on brain-behavior relationships can be better understood in animals, and in turn guide research that examines chemical or behavioral therapies that minimize or prevent such a deplorable condition in humans. Currently, we are examining the potential benefits of micronutrients such as choline and antioxidants such as vitamin E in minimizing the detrimental impacts of fetal alcohol exposure on the brain and behavior.
In terms of neurodegenerative disorders, I am examining behavioral and cognitive deficits in triple-transgenic (3xTg-AD) mice that bear the PS1-M146V, APP-Swe, and tauP301L mutations - mutations that are hallmark features of Alzheimer's disease (AD). In collaboration with investigators at Brody School of Medicine, we hope to test the feasibility of experimental therapeutic agents that have gained much interest as of late in minimizing the impact of AD in animal models.