The School of Biological Sciences presents
The Ralph Gerard Lectureship
“Detecting Neurotransmitters–A Journey from Beaker to the Behaving Brain”
R. Mark Wightman, Ph.D.
W.R. Kenan, Jr., Professor of Chemistry
Faculty, Neuroscience Center
University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
My research seeks to understand the process by which nerve cells in the brain communicate with each other. Neurotransmitters, which are chemicals released from a nerve cell, are an integral part of this communication network that stimulate, inhibit or regulate the activity of a neighboring nerve cell. Scientific understanding of neuro transmitters, along with their receptors, locations and interactions with one another, has implications for the future of research into the human brain and related illnesses. My work involves applying electro – analytical chemistry to detect certain neurotransmitters. This includes the use of microelectrodes to study the neurotransmitters in their natural environment. The resulting technology has advanced over the years, making possible the measurement of specific neuro transmitters, even on a time scale in the millisecond range. Today these approaches are extremely useful to understand the dynamics of neuro – transmitters during release, uptake and signaling. During this presentation, I will further discuss some important insights into the role of specific neurotransmitters such as dopamine and norepinephrine in response to cues that predict reward and in aversive situations, respectively.
Reception immediately following the lecture.