Department Leadership Profile

Barker, David

Our research applies cutting edge technologies to interrogate neural circuits involved in psychiatric disorders. Our goal is to better understand the maladaptive processes that affect the brains of individuals afflicted with drug addiction and comorbid disorders such as anxiety disorders, depression, or chronic pain with the hope of advancing more effective treatment strategies.

Drug addiction is a chronically relapsing disorder that is driven by the powerful positive and negative stimuli or emotional states that are associated with drug use. The lab focuses on how connections in the brain or ‘circuits’ are involved in receiving, processing, and transmitting information related to natural stimuli and drug-related stimuli, as well as how this processing changes over prolonged drug use

The lab applies anatomical techniques to define the types of neurons that comprise specific brain pathways, calcium imaging and electrophysiological techniques to record the types of information encoded by these circuits, and optogenetic or chemogenetic technologies to manipulate circuit-level activity.

Our work has been generously supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). More information on our ongoing projects, methods, funding, and on opportunities to join the lab can be found at my laboratory website using the URL above.