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Research Interests:
I am interested in studying the cellular mechanisms of emotional learning by combining auditory fear conditioning and patch-clamp electrophysiology. We focus on the infralimbic (IL) sub-region of the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), a structure necessary for inhibiting conditioned fear responses following fear extinction. We have found that fear extinction enhances the intrinsic excitability of of IL neurons. Changes in IL excitability appears to be necessary for reducing conditioned fear, perhaps by inhibiting amygdala output. Since extinction-based exposure psychotherapy is being used to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and phobias, understanding the cellular mechanisms of extinction will likely lead to new strategies for treating these disorders. Currently, we have an ongoing collaboration with Dr. James T. Porter from Ponce School of Medicine and Dr. Gregory J. Quik from U.P.R. Medical School in San Juan P.R.
    Laboratory Techniques:
    • Pavlovian Fear Conditioning (cued and contextual)
    • Patch-clamp Electrophysiology
    • Intracranial Micro-infusions
    • Animal Surgery
    • Histology
    • Immunohistochemistry

      Ongoing Projects:
        • Project Title: The effects of chronic morphine treatment in fear conditioning in male and female rats at different stages of the estrous cycle. Health Professions Division Grant.
        • Project Title: Acute morphine after fear learning: implications for sex-specific PTSD treatment. Chancellor’s Faculty Research and Development Grant.
        • Project Title: Applying in vitro recording techniques to extinction of conditioned fear. National Science Foundation Grant (IOS 0842159) awarded to Dr. James T. Porter (Co-PI), Dr. Gregory J. Quirk (Co-PI) and Dr. Edwin Santini (Collaborator).
Research Interests keywords:
Fear, Extinction, Prefrontal, Amygdala, PTSD, Anxiety Disorders, Intrinsic Excitability, Plasticity, Learning and Memory, Behavior, Freezing, Auditory Fear Conditioning, mPFC, Infralimbic, Prelimbic

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