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Welcome to the Sylwestrak Lab at the University of Oregon

Molecular, Cellular, and Circuit Mechanisms of Motivated Behavior

Department of Biology, Institute of NeuroScience

Lab News Feed

  • 1 August 2019 - Blake Holcomb joins the lab!!!

  • 5 June 2019 - The Elfn1 saga continues! Check out Tev’s paper in J. Neurosci, highlighting the Elfn1- and mGluR7-dependent mechanisms of layer-specific facilitation in cortex.

  • 8 February 2019 - Our work is highlighted in the Allen Institute’s Data Stories.

  • 2 November 2018 - Emily is selected for the Allen Institute Next Generation Leaders Council.

  • 14 August 2018 - Sylwestrak Lab receives the Brain, Behavior & Research Foundation's 2018 NARSAD Young Investigator Grant. 

  • 26 July 2018 -  A great collaboration with Xiao Wang and Will Allen from the Deisseroth Lab is out in this week's issue of Science

The nervous system must continuously process sensory stimuli, evaluate outcomes, and apply learned rules to future behavior. To accomplish these diverse tasks, neural circuits are specialized at the systems, cellular, and molecular levels.  We aim to understand how heterogeneous, molecularly-defined neuronal populations work together to drive behavior. We use cell-type specific activity monitoring and behavioral analysis to tackle this question in the habenula. This thalamic structure shows a rich transcriptional diversity, and has been associated with several neuropsychiatric disorders, but we lack a detailed understanding of how different cell types map onto behavior in healthy and pathological states. We have found that distinct cell types in the habenula encode reward predictions and outcomes during motivated behavior. The habenula has also been linked to addiction and depression, and we are interested in identifying what cell types may contribute to altered reward processing in neuropsychiatric disorders.

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