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CURRENT PROJECTS

 

NEURAL ENCODING OF SOCIALLY-MOTIVATED INTERNAL STATES

Do we have a “hunger” for specific types of social interactions?

In this project we are interested in how internal states for appetitive social-seeking behaviors are encoded in the brain and how these states change the functional properties of neurons in social-decision-making networks.  We design and deploy automated, high-throughput behavioral tasks to identify mice that are socially motivated and then use electrophysiology and optical recordings to understand how these changes in internal state update social seeking.

MAPPING INHIBITORY CONTROL CIRCUITS FOR AGGRESSION

How is aggression kept in check by cortical and subcortical networks?

Increased aggression and aggression-seeking behaviors are a hallmark of a number of diverse psychiatric disorders including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and autism.  In this project, we seek to shine a light on social dysfunction by mapping the circuit logic and functions of inhibitory circuits that converge on hypothalamic loci critical for aggression.

SOCIAL HIERARCHY AND INFORMATION PROCESSING

Do we retain a neural “fingerprint” of our social rank even outside of social situations?

Mice form stable linear hierarchies that necessitate a neural encoding of one’s own social rank and the identities of others in the hierarchy.  We are interested in how this representation of rank influences not only the actions that animals take in social situations, but how they process social and non-social sensory information.  We combine analysis of freely moving behavior with tightly controlled sensory assays to understand how these experiences shape information processing.