Christopher Hall Rose Hills
Exploring Pubertal Effects on Dopamine Release Dynamics During Learning and Decision-Making
Adolescence has been defined as a transitional period characterized by physical, cognitive, and socioemotional changes while the brain goes through a parallel process of circuit refinement. It is also a window of vulnerability for the development of disorders like schizophrenia and addiction. However, our understanding of the role of puberty, and the coincident surge in gonadal hormones, in brain and behavioral development is still incomplete. Multiple studies have shown both testosterone- and estrogen-dependent modulation of reward-related behaviors and its circuitry. However, there are yet to be studies that test the role played by gonadal hormones at the time of puberty onset on these circuits and associated behavioral function in learning and decision-making. I aim to study how the rise in gonadal hormone production at puberty impacts dopamine release in the nucleus accumbens (NAcc), a sub-region of the striatum, in male mice. To do this, I plan to investigate how surgical occlusion of puberty alters dopamine release dynamics in the NAcc and consequent changes in learning, decision-making strategies, and motivation in adult male mice.