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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

Sylwestrak Lab....coming to the University of Oregon Spring 2019!

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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