Amar Sahay, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry
185 Cambridge Street
Boston, MA 02114
Visit my lab page here.
Our goals are to understand how plasticity mechanisms in the adult brain may be harnessed to modify hippocampal functions in cognition and mood and how alterations in neural circuits contribute to the development of psychiatric disorders. As part of this endeavor, the laboratory has two main areas of focus.
Adult-born hippocampal neurons in cognition and affective behaviors. Although the maturation of the mammalian brain is marked by the progressive restriction of cellular and neural plasticity, it is now widely recognized that the dentate gyrus sub region of the hippocampus is host to neurogenesis, the generation of functional neurons from neural stem cells, throughout life. Our research seeks to: (i) Characterize the regulatory mechanisms that control adult hippocampal neurogenesis, (ii) Identify molecular programs that define the properties and connectivity of new neurons, and (iii) interrogate how stem cells and adult-born neurons function within the hippocampal circuit to influence learning and emotional behavior of normal mice and murine models of psychiatric illness.
Neural mechanisms underlying psychiatric illnesses. Most, if not all, psychiatric illnesses have their origins in the disruption of genetic and epigenetic programs that dictate embryonic and early-post natal development of neural circuits. We want to understand how alterations in neural circuits during the early postnatal period, when environment refines behaviors, contribute to perturbed affective behaviors and impairments in cognitive functions in adulthood.
Towards these goals, we employ a combination of viral and mouse genetic based molecular-, pharmaco- and opto-genetic techniques to manipulate neural stem cells and distinct cell types, as well as candidate genes that we have identified, with concomitant assessment of circuit function and behavior. It is hoped that our efforts will shed light on: (i) The therapeutic potential of targeting adult neurogenesis for treatment of cognitive impairments and mood dysfunction, (ii) The identification of latent mechanisms of plasticity extant in other regions of the adult mammalian brain, and (iii) Etiological mechanisms underlying psychiatric illnesses.
For a complete listing of publications click here.
Last Update: 1/17/2014