Area of Interest: Postpartum depression (PPD) affects approximately 15% of women after giving birth. Currently, the causes of PPD are not fully understood. Motherhood comprises substantial hormonal and experiential changes that reorganize the brain and behavior. I am particularly interested in the neural, endocrine, and immunological changes that occur with reproductive experience (i.e., pregnancy and mothering) in females and how these changes are relevant for PPD. Further, my laboratory focuses on the role of hippocampal (and to a lesser extent, prefrontal cortical) remodeling in depression-like behaviors and cognitive changes following reproductive experience. My lab uses a variety of techniques including animal husbandry, behavioral testing, surgery, radioimmunoassay, immunohistochemistry, and brightfield and fluorescence microscopy. Specific areas of interest include:
- Postpartum changes in depression-like behaviors, stress responses, and stress sensitivity.
- Maternal experience and brain plasticity (hippocampal neurogenesis, neuronal remodeling, spine density)
- Hippocampal- and prefrontal cortical-dependent cognition during and after the postpartum period.