Welcome to the Biopsychology Lab at UNL

Interested in joining the UNL Biopsychology team?
Check out our information handout to learn how to apply!

The Biopsychology laboratory at UNL is primarily interested in the neurobiological and behavioral mechanisms of action of psychotherapeutic drugs (e.g. antipsychotic drugs, antidepressants and anxiolytics), co-morbid substance abuse in mental disorders and neurobiology of maternal behavior. We are also interested in the long-term impacts of antipsychotic treatment on the brain and behavioral development and functions. 

We take a preclinical approach using pharmacological (e.g. selective agonists or antagonists), neuroscience (e.g. immunocytochemistry, western blot, ELISA), genetic (e.g. viral vectors), and behavioral techniques to delineate how drugs (both therapeutic and drugs of abuse) work at the behavioral, neurochemical and neuroanatomical levels. We also develop and validate animal behavioral models that are useful for drug discovery. For maternal behavior, we are mainly interested in the roles of 5-HT receptors in the mediation of the onset and maintenance of maternal behavior in rats. It is relevant to our neuropsychopharmacology work from the perspective of understanding postpartum depression and psychosis. The ultimate goals of our research program are to understand the neurobiology of psychological functions/processes that are affected by psychoactive drugs and to develop highly valid animal models that can aid drug discovery. 

Current studies explore psychobiological mechanisms of antipsychotic action, comorbidity of nicotine use in schizophrenia, depression in schizophrenia, and long-term effects of antipsychotic treatment during adolescence on the brain and behavior. We also have done work in evaluating new chemical compounds that may have therapeutic potentials for mental disorders. Our work is clinically relevant in addressing practical issues such as polypharmacy and drug treatment to adolescents. 

The models used in this lab include both unconditioned natural behaviors (e.g. social interaction, maternal behavior, locomotor activity, forced swim test, startle reflex, etc), as well as conditioned behaviors (e.g. two-way conditioned avoidance response, Pavlovian fear conditioning). The laboratory is equipped with 8 two-way conditioned avoidance shuttle boxes; 8 ultrasonic vocalization recorder, 16 locomotor activity monitoring boxes; 4 forced swim test system; 6 startle reflex systems; a cryostat; a spectrophotometer, and a stereotaxic instrument.  

Feel free to learn more about our lab via the links above.

Updated 04/16/2013