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Regulatory and Systems Neuroscience Program


This program supports research in humans and animals on the fundamental principles and mechanisms of biobehavioral regulation (i.e., the interaction of behavioral and biological processes), including the development, organization and function of neural circuits relevant to understanding the normal functioning of a variety of brain structures. Areas of interest include the neural basis and regulation of motivation, reward, fear, stress, anxiety, circadian rhythms, sleep, and arousal. Investigation of neurobiological sex differences and the developmental time course of these processes are also of interest. The elucidation of nervous and endocrine systems that mediate these processes is of particular interest as are studies of the neural systems basis of the interaction among them. Examination of the structure and function of brain circuits in the normal brain is critical to providing insight into abnormal behavior and is important for the ultimate understanding of the etiology of psychiatric disorders. Research supported by this program uses multidisciplinary approaches including but not limited to behavioral, biochemical, anatomical, electrophysiological and imaging methodologies.

Areas of Emphasis

  • Identifying neuromodulatory processes governing control of reward, motivation, stress and anxiety.
  • Elucidation of brain structures and mechanisms underlying fear responses, fear conditioning and fear extinction.
  • Identifying candidate neural mechanisms that underlie the relation between stress and sleep and between sustained fear, fear extinction and sleep.
  • Identifying different forms of stressors that vary in their biobehavioral consequences and pinpointing neural systems and mechanisms that underlie resilience to stress.
  • Advancing our understanding of the role of sleep in learning and memory.
  • Identifying neural systems underlying biological rhythms and how they relate to higher brain functions and behaviors including emotion, cognition, motivation, mood, attention and arousal.
  • Developmental factors relevant to the above areas in biobehavioral regulation


Aleksandra Vicentic, PhD
Program Chief
6001 Executive Boulevard, Room 7186, MSC 9637