Learn more about our neurotransmitter imaging work with this talk, presented at the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation (BBRF) Annual Research Symposium, and this article from the San Francisco Chronicle.

Information transfer in living organisms occurs over many length and time scales. A prime example of this complexity is the nervous system, where neurotransmitters are released between neuronal cells across nanometer-scale synapses, yet this chemical communication drives functionality on the macroscopic scale of the organism. The difficulty in developing tools to study neurotransmission lies in the complexity of extending such tools over the many orders of magnitude spanned by the nervous system. As such, tools to study neurotransmission are segmented and optimized to acquire information for small ranges of spacial and temporal information (i.e. single-neuron fluorescence imaging vs. whole-brain functional mapping).

Our lab develops tissue-compatible sensors for modulatory neurotransmitters that can report on neurotransmitter concentrations in brain tissue, at spatial and timescales that match the complexity of neurotransmission. With these nanosensors, we seek to explain how environmental stimuli can affect chemical neurotransmission. Our aim is to complement the knowledge base of how brain structure (fluorescence microscopy), and behavior (psychology), affect the release and re-uptake of chemical neurotransmitters, and how these parameters may be affected by drugs that target common neurological disorders such as depression, addiction, schizophrenia, anxiety, Parkinson’s disease, and social autism spectrum disorder.


Scientists: Abraham Beyene, Ian McFarlane, Eric Gordon Tindall, Travis Del Bonis O’Donnell, Ralph Henry Page