Members of the Howland Laboratory are currently working in two main areas:
1. Effects of acute stress on cognition and synaptic plasticity:
The neurobiological mechanisms enabling cognition remain poorly characterized. Converging lines of evidence suggest that various forms of synaptic plasticity may underlie cognitive processes such as learning and memory, although direct evidence supporting this hypothesis is lacking. As a result, novel experimental models and pharmacological tools to test these mechanisms are critically needed. Acute stress has profound and complex effects on learning and memory, as well as synaptic plasticity. Therefore, understanding how acute stress influences learning and memory will provide insight into the neurobiological mechanisms underlying cognition. Experiments performed in this line of research focus on understanding the effects of acute stress on cognition and synaptic plasticity using a combination of sensitive behavioral testing, in vivo extracellular electrophysiology recording techniques, and novel pharmacological strategies in rodent models. These experiments will significantly improve our understanding of advanced cognitive functions from an integrated behavioural and physiological perspective. This research is funded by an NSERC Discovery Grant.