MAR 19, 2015 01:30 PM PDT

Neural Circuits Important for Valence Processing

Presented At Neuroscience
  • Principal Investigator, Picowar Institute, Assistant Professor of Neuroscience, Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, MIT
      Kay Tye began her education as an undergraduate research assistant at MIT from 1999-2003. She continued her studies at the University of California, San Francisco as a graduate student in Patricia Janaks lab studying electrophysiological properties of amygdala neurons both in vivo and ex vivo during reward-seeking behavior. Kay then did a short postdoc with Antonello Bonci, now the intramural director of NIDA, to study synaptic strength following reward learning, followed by a postdoc at Stanford University with Karl Deisseroth where she used novel optogenetic techniques to dissect the neural circuitry underlying psychiatric disease. Kay is currently an Assistant Professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, a member of the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences. She is also a NYSCF Neuroscience Robertson Investigator
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    Behaviors are motivated by two emotional valences: Seeking pleasure and avoiding pain. The ability to select appropriate behavioral responses to environmental stimuli, such as avoiding a predator or approaching a food source, is critical for survival. The perturbation of valence processing is also relevant to a number of psychiatric disease states. Within a given type of behavior, such as feeding or social interaction, motivational drives of both positive and negative valence can contribute. For example, feeding can be driven by the rewarding aspects of food consumption or by the motivation to escape the aversive state of hunger. Recent insights from our lab outline a diverse set of circuit-level processes that can modulate valence in a given behavior. We hope these basic science insights will lead to the development of more effective and specific therapeutics capitalizing on a solid understanding of neural circuitry.

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