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The Carruth Lab

Research

The role of Coactivators on Development of the Song Nuclei
Early  in  development, male  and  female  brains  diverge  in  their patterns of growth and differentiation, especially  in  brain  regions  involved  in  the control of  behaviors and  functions that differ between the sexes.

Over  the  last  40  years  a  great  deal  of  experimental  evidence has  proven  that  gonadal  hormones, such as  testosterone  secreted  from  the  testes, are critical for the induction of  neuronal sex differences.  For example, it is testosterone which acts on the brain to induce masculine patterns of development leading to  the  formation of  masculine  brain  circuits. Yet research over the last decade has suggested that not all sex differences in the brain are the direct result of steroid action, and that other factors need to be invoked to explain sexually  dimorphic  neural  development. 

I  am   interested  in  examining  direct  genetic  influences  on  brain  sexual differentiation as well as identifying  the  mechanisms, possibly  through  coregulatory  proteins or molecular  chaperones, by which hormones act in the brain to induce sexual differentiation in the Australian Zebra Finch


The role of Stress on Development of the Song Nuclei
I am also interested in studying the effects of early stress on develoment of the Zebra finch song nuclei. Previous studies have shown that stress on juvenile male zebra finches (from either nutritional deprivation or corticosterone treatment) decreases the HVC size and song complexity in adulthood. The underlying mechanisms controlling stressed-induced reduction of the size of song control nuclei are unknown. Thus, we are looking at the role of Corticosterone and glucocorticoid receptors on song nuclei development.

Pre-College and Public Education Interest
As a scientist and an  educator, I am interested and in exposing K-12 students to science in general, as well as encouraging  them  to  develop  an  interest  in  neuroscience at a young age.

Students can  participate in a series of  educational  outreach  programs  that   provide a hands-on learning   experience  emphasizing  the  function and  importance of the brain. Through  group and  individual  activities, interactive  games, and  hands-on   exercises, young  students  will  receive  instruction  in  the  basic  science  of  the  brain. The   programs  can  address  such  topics  as  "What does the brain do?  How do we  remember things?  What is the brain made of?  Are there sex differences in brains?  What  happens as your brain grows? What is good for your  brain--What is bad for your  brain?" plus many  more.

In addition, summer workshops for  K-12  teachers  have  been  developed  to  provide  educators  with  the  tools and information they  need to bring neuroscience into their classrooms.  Community outreach will focus on activities that allow for family fun and learning at various venues throughout Atlanta.