The neural circuits underlying stress eating
Our research focuses on afflictions of the nervous system in which reward seeking plays a key role, such as disorders of binge eating (ravenous intake of a lot of food in a short period of time) and drug addiction. These are prevalent problems that unfortunately can have very negative outcomes for those affected, as treatment options are often inadequate.
A particularly problematic feature of these conditions is their ‘relapsing’ nature. Patients can temporarily suppress undesirable behavior (e.g. the binge-eating), but unfortunately tend to remain vulnerable to triggers in the environment that rekindle it. Stressful events in particular can be potent triggers in this regard (i.e. causing stress eating of ‘comfort foods’).
One of the main goals of the lab is to understand how stressful events manage to have such a strong influence on reward systems of the brain to promote the intake of (food) rewards. To this end we perform research in rodents, who share with humans the evolutionarily conserved neural systems responsible for integrating information about stress and rewards. We strive to use the insights we obtain to devise intervention strategies to counteract dysfunctional brain circuit plasticity and excessive reward seeking.
Dr. Frank Meye
My research focuses on unraveling Ventral Tegmental Area dopamine circuits involved in stress eating.
Ex vivo electrophysiology; patch clamp, (in vivo) optogenetics, local drug infusion.
My research aims at understanding how neuronal ensembles in the ventral tegmental area integrate information arising from aversive and rewarding experiences.
Behavior, chemo- and optogenetics, fiber photometry
My research aims to define how the cortical control over feeding centers is altered by stress.
In vitro electrophysiology, optogenetics.
My research focuses on endogenous stress-protective systems. In particular, I investigate how Neuropeptide Y curbs the stress response to prevent stress-induced anxiety.
Slice electrophysiology, in vivo opto- / chemo-genetics, microscopy
I am interested in how dopamine-sensitive cortical pathways contribute to impulsive behavior and how stress affects these systems.
Fiber photometry, DREADDs, pharmacology
I am focuses on understanding cortical control over feeding systems.
My research is aimed at delineating how prefrontal cortical microcircuits regulate food intake and how this system is affected by stress.
In vivo electrophysiology, optogenetics, neural tracing