Christian Monroy Hernández
MSTP in PhD Training
Current advisor: Yao Chen, PhD
Undergraduate university: University of New Orleans, 2018
Enrollment year: 2020
Role of ventral arkypallidal neurons in reward consumption
Neuromodulators, such as acetylcholine and dopamine, are endogenous chemicals that modulate neuronal circuit activity and behavior. Traditionally, neuromodulators were described as inflexibly eliciting a specific biological effect; however, this static representation is evolving to accommodate growing evidence that neuromodulators can have distinct—and even opposing—context-dependent effects. What defines these contexts, and how they drive heterogenous neuromodulator responses remains unknown.
I am interested in exploring context-dependent neuromodulator responses, and how they are dynamically altered through space and time. Currently, I am exploring how muscarinic receptor signaling can elicit heterogenous activity of Protein Kinase A (PKA), believed to be an integrator of intracellular signaling. My focus is on uncovering the mechanism and biological function of this heterogenous response to the same stimulus. Given PKA’s involvement in processes such as synaptic plasticity, learning and memory, characterizing this process could shed light into how the brain carries out many of its basic processes and computations.