The Pickens lab is using behavioral, pharmacological, and neuroanatomical methods (lesions and inactivations, functional neuroanatomy and chemogenetic techniques) to support three lines of research on long-term fear and anxiety and the long-term effects of hallucinogen- and alcohol-exposure.
1: What are the long-term effect to exposure to the anesthetic/hallucinogenic drug ketamine on learning and decision-making long after the ketamine is out of the system, and how do these effects compare to the effects of neurotoxic brain lesions? This project is primarily run by one of the graduate students- Hayley Fisher.
2: What is the relationship between voluntary alcohol consumption during adolescence or adulthood on learning and decision-making long after the alcohol is out of the system… and if voluntary alcohol consumption is associated with altered learning, could this because of genetic influences or because alcohol causes neurotoxicity in the brain? This project is open for any potential graduate students who would like to take it on.
3: What is the neurobiological basis of increases in fear across the weeks following traumatic events (fear incubation) and how is this affected by potential medications to decrease fear or alcohol use (which could be a form of self-medication)? This project is primarily run by one of the graduate students- Alisa Pajser.