Areas of Interest: My work has evolved from an early interest in the modulation of cognitive processes by glucose (given either in the form of a drink, to humans, or via injection into rodents) to a current set of related foci on the cognitive and neurochemical impacts of diabetes, aging, and Alzheimer's disease; the links between insulin and amyloid and hence between diabetes (especially type 2 diabetes) and Alzheimer's disease; and the role of insulin within the brain, specifically in modulation of cognitive processes.
In general, studies in my lab involve a combination of cognitive testing (primarily using a range of maze tasks) with in vivo neurochemical measurements and manipulations. We work primarily in rats, although hippocampal cell culture experiments are currently being set up to allow for in vitro companion studies. Manipulations - variables of interest - can be either acute (e.g. administration of drug treatments into the hippocampus, or induction of hypoglycemia to simulate type 1 diabetic patients overdosing on insulin) or longer-term (dietary changes, aging, or recurrent hypoglycemic experience, for example).
Recent findings include demonstration that the hippocampus relies upon insulin signalling for optimal memory processing, demonstration that systemic insulin resistance produces impaired hippocampal cognitive and metabolic function, and measurement of the varied cognitive impact of recurrent hypoglycemia across brain structures and functions. Future directions depend largely upon the evolving interests of lab members, but are likely to include continued exploration of metabolic regulation of brain function.
Specific research interests follow.
- Metabolic Factors in Brain Function
- Mechanistic Links Between Type 2 Diabetes and Alzheimer's Disease
- Role of Insulin in Brain Function
- Interactions Between Multiple Neural Memory Systems