February 15, 2014

The Cat Who Broke his Sweet Tooth

Maverick the Cat

Carry the One Radio

Feb. 15, 2014 (Hosted by Sam Esselmann)

This is our first "CTOR Short"! Our producer Samantha explores why her cat Maverick cannot taste sweet foods.

February 01, 2014

Tapping into the Brain's Avoidance Centers: Garret Stuber

Traditionally, dopamine is known to transmit reward signals (food, sex, etc.) in the brain and promote behaviors that lead to that reward again. What you may not know, however, is that the area of the brain that releases dopamine, the ventral midbrain, also receives signals of aversion (things we find unpleasant or even dangerous) from a far-off brain region called the lateral habenula. These avoidance signals promote behaviors that lead us to avoid unpleasant or dangerous things in the world.

These brain circuits are necessary for survival and are the focus of Dr. Garret Stuber and his laboratory at the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill. Using a tool known as optogenetics, Dr. Stuber can excite specific populations of neurons within mouse brains and observe their effects on behavior. For example, by stimulating the neurons in the lateral habenula that signal aversion, he can cause mice to avoid the location in which they received that stimulation. He is essentially creating an aversive stimulus by stimulating the neurons that would normally respond to harmful or unpleasant cues in the world. His work has important implications in addiction and psychiatric disorders

More on the Stuber Lab's research

Hosted by Osama Ahmed