PiN Faculty Member - Vadim Bolshakov, PhD

Vadim Bolshakov, PhD

Professor of Psychiatry

McLean Hospital - Mailman Research Center
Cellular Neurobio. Lab, Rm. 209
115 Mill St.
Belmont, MA 02478
Tel: 617-855-3171
Fax: 617-855-2023
Visit my lab page here.

We study cellular and molecular mechanisms of learned and innate behaviors, specifically focusing on understanding the mechanisms of fear-related behavioral responses at the neural network level. In our experiments, we combine electrophysiological, cell biological, and optogenetic techniques in order to relate long-term synaptic modifications in fear circuits induced by fear conditioning to memories of this averse experience. Our results illuminated how the information that is contained in the specific afferent input activity could be encoded and preserved during fear learning. We identified several mechanisms of pathway specificity of lasting synaptic modifications in fear conditioning pathways helping to maintain functional independence of the convergent inputs. These mechanisms contribute to directionality of the information flow in fear conditioning circuits, providing a mechanism for the conditioned stimulus discrimination during fear memory retrieval. Our laboratory demonstrated also that both synaptic modifications in afferent inputs to the amygdala associated with fear conditioning and the ability to acquire and retain fear memory can be regulated by the neural circuitry-specific gene expression, providing genetic evidence that plasticity in the conditioned stimulus pathways serves as a cellular mechanism of fear memory formation. More recently, combining optogenetics, viral tracing, electrophysiology and behavioral testing, we explored how anxiety-related behaviors are mediated at the level of interactions between anxiety-controlling brain regions (amygdala and BNST, specifically). We discovered the network-level mechanisms which control anxiogenesis by decreasing the functional output of the BNST neurons to downstream brain regions, thus triggering physiological manifestations of anxiety.

Last Update: 9/16/2020


For a complete listing of publications click here.



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