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Behavioral Neuropharmacology:
A Lifestyle

The goal of Young Lab is to aid in the development of treatments for mental illness. These illnesses are identified through behavioral abnormalities in people and can be quantified using domain-specific tasks.  We utilize the same domain-specific behavioral tasks in rodents as we conduct in humans to ensure reliability of effects across species.  We then use neuroscience techniques and pharmacology to identify mechanism(s) underlying these behaviors relevant to disease states and drugs that will affect such behaviors.


The Young Lab investigates the molecular biology and neural circuitry underlying behavioral abnormalities occurring in major neuropsychiatric disorders.  Debilitating forms of mental illness are prevalent but treatment options for these disorders remain limited. For example, despite the fact that cognitive deficits are a major determinant of impaired function in these patients, there are no approved treatments.  Despite molecular and genetic advances, treatment development has not kept pace.  One major roadblock for treatment development has been the scarcity of effective cross-species models.  We use cutting-edge neuroscience to develop novel and sophisticated cross-species models to identify targetable mechanisms to treat mental illnesses.

Clinical Focus

The primary mental illnesses we focus on are, but are not limited to, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, ADHD, and HIV-associated neurological disorders.  We work with our clinical colleagues to characterize behavioral abnormalities using reverse-translated paradigms.  For example, using the human 5-choice continuous performance task (originally developed for mice), we characterized EEG and fMRI abnormalities that occur in patients with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder respectively, the impact smoking, and smoking cessation, has on attention.  By identifying neural mechanisms in patients and healthy subjects, these mechanisms can then be investigated in greater depth using the corresponding animal models, for which also conduct corresponding EEG analyses.

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