The Bocarsly Lab uses a systems level approach to identify the neural substrates, circuits, and behavioral motivations driving food intake and their contributions to the development of disease states such as compulsive overeating, obesity, and anorexia. To do this, the laboratory uses a combination of novel transgenic mouse lines, optogenetics, chemogenetics, in vivo fiber photometry, molecular techniques, ex vivo brain slice fast-scan cyclic voltammetry, and fiber photometry, as well as behavior using mouse models.

Dopamine D2 receptors in the lateral hypothalamus and their role in dysregulated feeding

Obesity poses a growing public health issue, and it is becoming increasingly evident that this addictive state of eating may be associated with dysregulation in dopaminergic reward pathways. Using transgenic mice and stereotaxic surgery, we are investigating the role of the dopamine D2 receptor in the lateral hypothalamus, the "feeding center" of the brain. 

Dopamine D3 receptors in the striatum and their involvement in behaviors in obesity and addiction

Using novel transgenic mice, stereotaxic surgery, and behavioral interventions we are evaluating the role of the dopamine D3 receptor and its role in obesity and addiction phenotypes. Through further investigation we hope to elucidate the effect that the D3R plays in these behaviors and contribute towards future interventions.

Olanzapine induced modifications to neuroinflammation and dopamine metabolism in Schizophrenia

Utilizing a high risk schizophrenia mouse model, we are researching dopamine metabolism and neuroinflammation in the striatum of mice brains. We are also looking into alterations that are occurring with long-term Olanzapine treatment in the same mouse model. 

Identifying a novel approach to stress-induced eating in transgenic mice

Individuals experiencing stressful circumstances often turn to increased food consumption as a coping mechanism. There exists the potential of this seemingly harmless strategy turning into an addictive behavior. We seek to understand if this perceived stress-eating can be characterized through behavioral and biological means. 

It is also fundamental to our research to understand dopamine signaling pathways in the striatum, as they play an integral role in feeding. In order to further investigate the role of dopamine receptors and their link to stress-induced feeding behaviors, transgenic mouse models with a knockdown of dopamine D2 receptors are used.