Dept.: Professor, Departments of Biology and Psychology
Neuroscience Focus Group: Behavioral Neuroscience
I am interested in the neural basis of biologically relevant behaviors in animals. The principal focus of my laboratory is on plasticity in the song control system in the brains of songbirds. I emphasize a comparative, evolutionary approach to this system, and combine behavioral studies in the field with laboratory techniques in neuroendocrinology, molecular biology, neuroanatomy, and signal analysis. I am currently pursuing two major topics of study in the song system. One concerns the physiological and molecular mechanisms, and the behavioral consequences, of seasonal plasticity observed in the morphology of song regions of the brain. The second topic is the functional significance and mechanisms of neurogenesis in the adult brain. I am investiating the role that new neurons play in behavioral plasticity, the factors that regulate the recruitment of new neurons, and the relationship between neuronal death and birth in the adult song control system.