The research program in my laboratory focuses on the hormonal regulation of behavior. Our efforts are directed at understanding sex differences in the neural circuits underlying fear and anxiety. In particular, we are interested in how neurosteroids, steroid hormones synthesized in the brain, modulate affective behavior through interactions with neurotransmitter-gated ion channels such as glutamate and GABAA receptors. Several brain regions involved in emotional behavior, including the hippocampus, amygdala, and bed nucleus of the stria terminalis, have been shown to be sensitive to neurosteroids and thus, may prove to be sexually dimorphic loci within relevant neural circuits. We are currently looking at the modulation of fear and anxiety in rats by allopregnanolone, a progesterone metabolite that enhances GABAergic transmission. To this end, we are applying molecular, biochemical, and behavioral techniques to our rodent model and are involved in active collaboration with established systems neuroscience labs.
Nagaya, N., Acca, G.M., and Maren, S. (2015) Allopregnanolone in the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis modulates contextual fear in rats. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience 9:205.
Nagaya, N. and Maren, S. (2015) Sex, steroids, and fear. Biological Psychiatry 78: 152-153.
Acca, G.M., Tsao, B., Jin, J., Fu, C., Maren, S., and Nagaya, N. (2015) Differential effects of allopregnanolone in the basolateral amygdala and bed nucleus of the stria terminalis on Pavlovian fear conditioning in rats. Program No. 175.07. 2015 Neuroscience Meeting Planner. Chicago, IL: Society for Neuroscience, 2015. Online.
Nagaya, N. and Macdonald, R.L. (2001) Two gamma2L subunit domains confer low Zn2+ sensitivity to ternary GABAA receptors. Journal of Physiology (London) 532: 17-30.
Nagaya, N. and Herrera, A.A. (1994) The effects of testosterone on synaptic efficacy at neuromuscular junctions in a sexually dimorphic muscle of the frog (Xenopus laevis). Journal of Physiology (London) 483: 141-153.
Accepting students Fall 2017