George Kevork Aghajanian MD

Professor Emeritus of and Senior Research Scientist in Psychiatry

Research Interests

Neurotransmission; antipsychotics; antidepressants; hallucinogens; opiates

Research Summary

In my laboratory we study mechanisms of chemical neurotransmission in the central nervous system using electrophysiological approaches in the rat brain slice preparation. Neurotransmission involves the release of transmitter substances from presynaptic elements onto postsynaptic neurons. The interaction of a neurotransmitter with a postsynaptic receptor then induces either a direct change in ionic conductance (Ligand-gated channel) or an indirect change in ionic conductance through a intermediary transducer molecule called a G protein (G-protein gated channel).

We study both kinds of neurotransmitter actions using intracellular and patch clamp recording from single neurons in brain slices. In addition we examine the ways in which psychotropic drugs modify the actions of neurotransmitters. Some of the drugs we are studying include: antipsychotics, antidepressants, hallucinogens, and opiates.

Selected Publications

  • Liu, R-J. and Aghajanian, G.K. Stress blunts serotonin- and hypocretin-evoked EPSCs in prefrontal cortex: role of corticosterone-mediated apical dendritic atrophy. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., 105:359-64, 2008.
  • Aghajanian, G.K. Modeling psychosis in vitro by inducing disordered network activity in cortical brain slices. Psychopharmacology 2009, epub ahead of print.

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