Neurophysiology of basal ganglia system related to psychiatric disorders.
Dr. Grace's research interests lie at the interface of neurobiology and psychiatry. Experiments conducted in his laboratory combine in vivo and in vitro electrophysiological recordings of identified neurons with behavioral and neuroanatomical techniques to study central dopaminergic systems, with the ultimate goal of determining the neurobiological correlates of mental disorders and the modes of action of psychotherapeutic drugs. Ongoing studies into the neurobiology of schizophrenia involve study of the interaction of the prefrontal cortex and antipsychotic drugs with subcortical dopamine systems, and examining the impact of developmental disruption on limbic system function, as a model for the pathophysiological changes underlying schizophrenia in humans. The mechanism of deep brain stimulation in treatment of obsessive compulsive disorder and the impact of stress on drug abuse are also investigated in anesthetized and awake animals.
The techniques employed in these analyses include: 1) recordings of identified neurons and local field potentials using intracellular and extracellular electrophysiological techniques, 2) anatomical studies of identified neurons and neurotransmitter pathways, 3) producing neurochemically specific lesions of neurons and selective disruptions of neuronal development, and 4) behavioral measures that correlate with electrophysiological studies. Through this approach, the basic neurobiological processes that contribute to psychiatric disorders may be elucidated, and insight may be gained into more effective therapeutic strategies for treating these diseases in humans.
Valenti, O. and Grace, A.AAntipsychotic drug-induced increases in ventral tegmental area dopamine neuron population activity via activation of the nucleus accumbens-ventral pallidal pathway. International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology 13(7): 845-60, 2010.
Grace, A.A. Ventral hippocampus, interneurons and schizophrenia: A new understanding of the pathophysiology of schizophrenia and its implications for treatment and prevention. Current Directions in Psychological Science 19: 232-237, 2010.
Belujon, P., Lodge, D.J. and Grace, A.A. Aberrant striatal plasticity is specifically associated with dyskinesias following L-DOPA treatment. Movement Disorders 25: 1568-1576, 2010.
Lodge, D.J., Behrens, M.M. and Grace, A.A. A loss of parvalbumin-containing interneurons is associated with diminished oscillatory activity in an animal model of schizophrenia. Journal of Neuroscience 29: 2344-2354, 2009.
McCracken, C.B. and Grace, A.A. Nucleus accumbens deep brain stimulation produces region-specific alterations in local field potential oscillations and evoked responses in vivo. Journal of Neuroscience 29: 5354-5363, 2009.
McGinty, V.B. and Grace, A.A. Activity-dependent depression of medial prefrontal cortex inputs to accumbens neurons by the basolateral amygdala. Neuroscience 162: 1429-1436, 2009.