Elliott Albers

Ph.D., Tulane University, 1979
Regents Professor
Member, Neuropsychology & Behavioral Neuroscience Program
390B Kell Hall

Research Description

Our laboratory investigates the behavioral functions of peptides and other neurochemical signals within the mammalian central nervous system. We are currently focused on understanding the action of neurotransmitters in the control of circadian rhythms and in the neural circuits that control social behavior.

Neuroendocrine Control of Social Behavior

The neuropeptides vasopressin and oxytocin are neurochemical signals involved in the control of social behavior in a wide range of species. Our research examines how these peptides are involved in controlling a number of different social behaviors including communicative behavior, aggression and reproductive behavior in Syrian hamsters. We have identified specific regions in the brain that are regulatory sites in vasopressin and oxytocin containing circuits and we are investigating how these neurons control different types of social behavior. We are also investigating how factors that change social behavior such as hormones and social experience alter the activity of vasopressin and oxytocin circuits and thereby alter the expression of social behaviors in the future.

Neural Control of Circadian Rhythms

Nearly all physiology and behavior exhibit 24-hour rhythms that are generated by one primary circadian clock in the brain. In mammals, a circadian clock has been localized within a small group of neurons called the suprachiasmatic nucleus. Although a variety of neurochemical signals have been identified within the suprachiasmatic nucleus how these signals contribute to biological timekeeping is not well understood. We use a variety of techniques to explore the clock from the level of gene expression to the analysis of behaviors timed by the circadian clock. One approach that has proved particularly useful in understanding how the clock is synchronized with environmental time cues such as the day-night cycle is the microinjection of neurotransmitters directly into the suprachiasmatic nucleus. Using this approach we have been able to investigate the neurochemical signals responsible for keeping the clock synchronized with the environment.

Representative Publications

Schulz KM, Menard TA, Smith DA, Albers HE, Sisk CL., Testicular hormone exposure during adolescence organizes flank-marking behavior and vasopressin receptor binding in the lateral septum. Horm Behav. 2006 Sep;50(3):477-83.

Powell KR, Albers HE. Center for Behavioral Neuroscience: A prototype multi-institutional collaborative research center. J Biomed Discov Collab. 2006 Jul 17;1(1):9.

Ehlen JC, Novak CM, Karom MC, Gamble KL, Paul KN, Albers HE. GABAA receptor activation suppresses Period 1 mRNA and Period 2 mRNA in the suprachiasmatic nucleus during the mid-subjective day. Eur J Neurosci. 2006 Jun;23(12):3328-36.

Gamble KL, Paul KN, Karom MC, Tosini G, Albers HE.Paradoxical effects of NPY in the suprachiasmatic nucleus. Eur J Neurosci. 2006 May;23(9):2488-94.

Albers HE, Dean A, Karom MC, Smith D, Huhman KL. Role of V1a vasopressin receptors in the control of aggression in Syrian hamsters. Brain Res. 2006 Feb 16;1073-1074:425-30.

Ehlen JC, Albers HE, Breyer ED. MEKC-LIF of gamma-amino butyric acid in microdialysate: systematic optimization of the separation conditions by factorial analysis. J Neurosci Methods. 2005 Aug 30;147(1):36-47.

Paul KN, Fukuhara C, Karom M, Tosini G, Albers HE. AMPA/kainate receptor antagonist DNQX blocks the acute increase of Per2 mRNA levels in most but not all areas of the SCN. Brain Res Mol Brain Res. 2005 Sep 13;139(1):129-36.

Cooper MA, Karom M, Huhman KL, Albers HE. Repeated agonistic encounters in hamsters modulate AVP V1a receptor binding. Horm Behav. 2005 Dec;48(5):545-51.

Gamble KL, Ehlen JC, Albers HE. Circadian control during the day and night: Role of neuropeptide Y Y5 receptors in the suprachiasmatic nucleus. Brain Res Bull. 2005 May 30;65(6):513-9.

Caldwell HK, Albers HE. Effect of photoperiod on vasopressin-induced aggression in Syrian hamsters. Horm Behav. 2004 Nov;46(4):444-9.

Novak CM, Ehlen JC, Huhman KL, Albers HE. GABA(B) receptor activation in the suprachiasmatic nucleus of diurnal and nocturnal rodents. Brain Res Bull. 2004 Jul 15;63(6):531-5.

Gamble KL, Novak CM, Albers HE. Neuropeptide Y and N-methyl-D-aspartic acid interact within the suprachiasmatic nuclei to alter circadian phase. Neuroscience. 2004;126(3):559-65.

Novak CM, Albers HE. Circadian phase alteration by GABA and light differs in diurnal and nocturnal rodents during the day. Behav Neurosci. 2004 Jun;118(3):498-504.

Paul KN, Gamble KL, Fukuhara C, Novak CM, Tosini G, Albers HE. Tetrodotoxin administration in the suprachiasmatic nucleus prevents NMDA-induced reductions in pineal melatonin without influencing Per1 and Per2 mRNA levels. Eur J Neurosci. 2004 May;19(10):2808-14.

Caldwell HK, Albers HE. Photoperiodic regulation of vasopressin receptor binding in female Syrian hamsters. Brain Res. 2004 Mar 26;1002(1-2):136-41.

Novak CM, Albers HE. Novel phase-shifting effects of GABAA receptor activation in the suprachiasmatic nucleus of a diurnal rodent. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2004 May;286(5):R820-5.

Caldwell HK, Albers HE. Short-photoperiod exposure reduces vasopressin (V1a) receptor binding but not arginine-vasopressin-induced flank marking in male Syrian hamsters. J Neuroendocrinol. 2003 Oct;15(10):971-7.

Paul KN, Fukuhara C, Tosini G, Albers HE. Transduction of light in the suprachiasmatic nucleus: evidence for two different neurochemical cascades regulating the levels of Per1 mRNA and pineal melatonin. Neuroscience. 2003;119(1):137-44.

Gamble KL, Novak CM, Paul KN, Albers HE. Tetrodotoxin blocks the circadian effects of NMDA during the day but not at night. Neuroreport. 2003 Mar 24;14(4):641-4.

Harmon AC, Huhman KL, Moore TO, Albers HE. Oxytocin inhibits aggression in female Syrian hamsters. J Neuroendocrinol. 2002 Dec;14(12):963-9.