Molecular Neurobiology of Ingestive Behavior

The central thesis of my work is that when behavior undergoes a long-term change in responsiveness, the long-term change is likely mediated by gene expression, protein synthesis, and structural changes in nerve cells. Feeding and drinking are essential behaviors mediated by a distributed neural network in the periphery and central nervous system of mammals. Ingestive behavior demonstrates remarkable plasticity in the face of homeostatic or environmental challenges.

I believe ingestive behavior as a model system offers unique features of stimuli, anatomy, and time course that can illuminate basic principles of molecular neurobiology: gene expression, protein synthesis, and structural changes in brain cells. My lab combines behavioral measures (preference tests, lickometry, feeding patterns) with molecular analyses (in situ hybridization, PCR, etc.) at critical time points to understand long-term changes in feeding behavior. A summary of my approach is contained in a review paper on the molecular neurobiology of ingestion (Houpt 2000). Here I summarize two major themes of my research into ingestive behaviors: Conditioned Taste Aversion and the regulation of Hypothalamic Neuropeptides.

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© 2014 T.A. Houpt. Last updated 2014-10-17.