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The effects of optogenetically activated orexin/hypocretin neurons on the mesolimbic reward pathway

Principal Investigator:
  • Corey Baimel, University of British Columbia

Project Overview

Mr. Baimel’s work focuses upon the role of the neuropeptide, orexin, and its role in modulating the neural region which regulates reward sensations, the ventral tegmental area (VTA). The primary objective of his work was to examine alterations in synaptic transmission in the VTA in response to addictive drugs. Mr. Baimel’s work was able to demonstrate that activation of the orexin signaling pathway in the VTA was critical to increase the strength of excitatory synaptic transmission in response to morphine. Mr. Baimel has extended his work and is exploring additional scientific projects. He has recently found that the potential co-release of orexin and the opioid peptide, dynorphin, may act synergistically on separate populations of VTA dopamine neurons, particularly during times of high effort demand when the orexin input to the VTA has the greatest influence on reward-related behaviours. These findings provide a better understanding of the underlying mechanisms involved in addiction pathways in the brain. Mr. Baimel’s work has recently been published in the Journal of Neuroscience. Mr. Baimel has presented his findings at a
number of national and international conferences, has made several opportune connections at these conferences, and is currently investigating various potential post-doctoral positions.