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Virginia Pickel



The mission of my laboratory is to understand the in vivo neuroadaptations that foster the development of slow onset hypertension as well as adolescent onset of schizophrenia and the transition from recreational use to addiction of heroin and other abused drugs.  This will be achieved using a multidisciplinary approach including electron microscopic immunolabeling, electrophysiology and behavioral measures in rodent models of sleep apnea, adolescent-isolation stress, and morphine or cocaine addiction.  We will use these methods to test the hypothesis that region-specific trafficking of neurotransmitter (mainly glutamate and dopamine) and chemokine receptors is correlated with changes in cell firing and ongoing behavior.  The brain regions under investigation include the, prefrontal cortex and striatum as well as the dopamine-enriched ventral midbrain  and the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus.  Together, the results may have far reaching implications for understanding and devising new treatment strategies for treating the many neurological and psychiatric disorders whose symptoms are worsened by adaptive changes in the brain circuitry. 

Research Topics

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