• Name: Ben Richardson, Ph.D.
  • Institution: University of Idaho
  • Department: Biological Engineering
  • Phone: 208-885-0977
  • Email: brichardson@uidaho.edu

Summary: The broad goal of our research program is to understand the synaptic and coding properties of neural circuits and how they may be impacted by neuropathological conditions. In particular, we are interested in the mechanisms by which synaptic and neuronal membrane properties contribute to information processing within the cerebellum and thalamocortical networks. In parallel, we work to understand the sensitivity of these circuits to genetic or environmental perturbations that may lead to neurological disorder (e.g., autism, alcohol use disorder, ataxia). For this work, we use a multifaceted approach, combining in vivo (single neuron) and ex vivo (whole-cell patch-clamp) electrophysiology, pharmacology, optogenetics, rodent behavior, viral track tracing and microscopy in rodent models.

Minimum classes: N/A

Projects: 

  • Identify novel links between cerebellar output neurons and other sensory brain nuclei. This work involves rodent surgery, viral track tracing, and microscopy to determine the anatomy of these novel pathways.
  • Transcriptomic analysis of single cells in defined brain regions. For this work, specific nuclei are isolated from whole brain specimens and then processed to isolate individual neurons. This tissue will then be prepared for single cell sorting and transcriptomic analysis to identify genetically-unique subpopulations of neurons. This project involves working with the University of Idaho GRC.
  • Determine the impact stress has on developing neural circuitry. This work involves establishing a behavioral paradigm in mice to mimic chronic stress experienced by humans. Upon paradigm development, immunohistochemistry and confocal microscopy will be used to determine the impact of the stress and resulting elevated corticosterone (stress hormone) on neural development cytoarchitecture.
  • Development of a system for delivering alcohol vapor at reliable and reproducible doses to individual rodents. This project involves developing of a system for ethanol vapor delivery and requires some basic construction knowledge and ability. Once the system is calibrated, mice implanted with ethanol biosensors in the cerebrospinal fluid, will be used to determine efficacy of the system that will be used in subsequent electrophysiology experiments.
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