We use a combination of classic neuroscience methods for perturbing brain activity (transient pharmacological inhibition and excitotoxic lesions) along with newer tools for bidrectional cell-specific circuit manipulation, or chemogenetics. We have used both inhibitory and excitatory Designer Receptors Exclusively Activated by Designer Drugs (DREADDs) with success (validated by slice electrophysiology). We also employ intravenous drug and alcohol self-administration models, in vivo calcium imaging and in vivo electrophysiology. We assess regional changes in protein and gene expression via immunohistochemistry, ELISAs, and RT-qPCR. Less often we employ noncontingent drug dosing regimens and work with radioisotopes for receptor binding studies and microPET.
We partner the techniques described above with a variety of custom-designed behavioral paradigms and computational modeling to better understand the effects of our brain manipulations.