Behavioral and Pharmacological Neuroscience at Indiana University
Welcome to the website for Prof. George Rebec's research group. Our lab is located in the psychology building at 1101 East 10th street on the IU Bloomington campus. Our research focuses on how the brain processes behaviorally relevant information under a variety of conditions.
Our group uses animal models to study brain function. Current models focus on drug addiction and neurodegenerative disease. For drug addiction, we use rats trained to self-administer psychostimulant drugs (e.g., cocaine and amphetamine analogs) and tested for relapse after the drug has been withdrawn. Relapse is the single biggest challenge in the treatment of drug addiction, and the rat model provides a way to understand the cellular and receptor changes that trigger relapse. This understanding is a key step toward treatment development. For neurodegenerative disease, we use genetically modified mice to study Huntington's disease (HD), a genetic disorder that causes degeneration of neurons in select areas of the brain that process cognitive, emotional, motivational, and movement information. Although the HD gene was identified in 1993, the mechanisms responsible for the behavioral and neuronal deficits remain unknown. We use genetic mouse models to assess these deficits and their underlying neuronal pathology. This is critical information for research aimed at restoring normal neuronal functioning.
Our experimental methods include recording electrophysiological activity of single neurons, slow- and fast-scan voltammetry, in vivo microdialysis, and immunohistochemical analysis. We often combine these techniques with commonly used behavioral paradigms to understand how individual neurons and neurotransmitter systems operate under naturally occurring behavioral conditions. We also measure interactions among neurons to elucidate to role of coordinated activity and dynamic networks in processing neural information.
Brain structures and circuits of particular importance to our group include the basal ganglia, limbic system, and select areas of prefrontal cortex as well as the mid-brain dopamine nuclei that innervate these structures. We are especially interested in how dopamine, a well-known monoamine transmitter, modulates the postsynaptic actions of glutamate, an excitatory amino acid.
For a more detailed discussion of our research and methods, click on the research tab located at the top of this page.