Stephen L. Cowen, PhD
Location: Tucson, Arizona, United States
A fundamental and unresolved question in neuroscience is how the activities of billions of interconnected neurons (brain cells) are coordinated during motor control, learning and decision-making. Furthermore, the breakdown of coordination may be associated with disorders such as Parkinson's disease (PD), schizophrenia and autism. Dr. Stephen Cowen investigates the mechanisms underlying this coordination by recording the activities of groups of individual neurons in multiple brain regions in pre-clinical models during rest and during performance of decision-making behaviors. Dr. Cowen's investigation of cost-benefit decision-making behaviors has revealed that neurons in the anterior cingulate cortex, a region within the frontal cortex of the brain, may regulate the ability to persist through physically strenuous movements, which is severely disrupted in PD. Ongoing experiments in the lab investigate how interactions between the frontal cortex and striatum are involved in this process, and how coordination between these regions and the hippocampus are involved in the consolidation of memories.