investigate the cellular, synaptic and molecular mechanisms of action of
central nervous system drugs; especially barbiturates, opiates, anesthetics
inhalants, as well as experimental drugs. The mechanisms of
action for CNS depressants are studied using electrophysiological
recording techniques and selective pharmacological probes to enhance or
inhibit specific neurotransmitter circuits. Most of our studies focus on
the CA 1 area in rat hippocampal brain slices (see
diagram). Neuronal circuit function in this brain area appears to
be disrupted by anesthetics and abused inhalants through a combination
of pre- and post-synaptic actions on glutamate
mediated neurotransmission. These effects could explain drug
actions causing memory
function and loss of consciousness.
Photo of hippocampus: Science
Picture: "Brain In a Jar." Courtesy of John Blaire Moore, http://www.3guys.com.