About Brandon Warren
Brandon Warren, Ph.D., received his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. from Florida State University. He then completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the National Institute on Drug Abuse in Baltimore, Maryland. Warren’s lab integrates behavioral, biochemical, and microscopic approaches to probe the role of neuronal ensembles (patterns of neurons activated during behavior) in animal models of drug addiction.
Drug addiction appears to involve abnormally strong learned associations, typified by intrusive memories that often induce drug craving and relapse. Our research endeavors to decode how these drug memories are stored in the brain. We hypothesize that learned associations are encoded by patterns of sparsely distributed neurons, called neuronal ensembles, which are selected by cues and their reinforcers. Since strong neuronal activity drives expression of the immediate early gene Fos, we use Fos expression to identify neuronal ensembles activated during behavior. The relationship between neuronal activity and Fos expression permits us to use the Fos promoter to drive expression of transgenes in rats. Transgenic rat lines now allow us to characterize and manipulate neuronal ensembles with unmatched specificity. Understanding how these memories are encoded may one day enable us to treat drug addiction by strengthening or weakening specific drug or memories.
For more details and information about joining the lab, please visit our website: http://www.warren-lab.com