Our Research

Research in the Jackson Lab is focused on the cellular and synaptic neurophysiology of hypothalamic neural circuits that regulate fundamental behavioral states such as sleep, arousal and feeding.

In particular, we study cells and circuits in the lateral hypothalamic area (LHA), which orchestrates fundamental aspects of behavior including arousal, stress, feeding and motivated behavior. Owing to its unique position at the intersection of multiple neural and humoral systems, the LHA drives essential behavioral programs that maintain homeostatic balance in physiology and behavior. Underlying the diverse functions of the LHA is an exceptionally heterogeneous population of neuronal cell types, of which few have been identified. Our team is focused on deciphering the neurochemical identity, cellular properties and synaptic connectivity of functional subpopulations of LHA neurons, which is an important prerequisite to understanding the role of LHA circuits in health and disease.

To accomplish this, we are using an integrated approach of anatomical, electrophysiological and molecular approaches. Techniques are centered on using patch-clamp electrophysiology and pharmacology in brain slices in order to elucidate the cellular and synaptic properties of specific hypothalamic cell types and their local and long-range synaptic connectivity. This approach is carried out in concert with a toolbox of neuroanatomical methods, optogenetic approaches as well as single cell gene expression profiling.

A deeper understanding of LHA cell types and circuits holds the promise of identifying therapeutic targets for neuropsychiatric illnesses, addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder, sleep and metabolic disorders.

Join Our Team!

We are currently seeking highly motivated graduate students and postdoctoral fellows who are interested in cellular and synaptic electrophysiology and hypothalamic circuits.  Please contact Dr. Jackson.