We investigate the cellular, synaptic and molecular mechanisms
of action of central nervous system drugs; especially barbiturates, opiates,
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
a 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 and GABA mediated neurotransmission. These effects
could explain drug actions causing memory loss
(amnesia), altered cognitive function
and loss of consciousness.
Photo of hippocampus: Science magazine cover.
Picture: "Brain In a Jar." Courtesy of John Blaire Moore, http://www.3guys.com.