Brian McCool, PhD - Research

The McCool lab has had a long-standing interest in understanding the relationships between drugs of abuse and emotional behaviors like fear and anxiety.  Specifically, we are trying to unravel the cellular and molecular mechanisms that govern both the individual-by-individual variations in these behaviors and the effects of chronic drug exposure on these mechanisms.  Our research is focused on examining the effects of chronic alcohol exposure on the cellular and molecular neurophysiology of the amygdala, a brain region that is important for regulating emotional behaviors.  To understand these complex relationships, we integrate numerous techniques including behavioral assays of anxiety and alcohol consumption, field EPSP and whole-cell patch clamp electrophysiology using in vitro brain slice preparations, and cellular/molecular biological approaches like western analysis, single-cell RT-PCR, and real-time RT-PCR.rat



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Current Projects include:

  • Basolateral amygdala (BLA) glutamatergic and GABAergic mechanisms that contribute to withdrawal anxiety in rodents and non-human primates
  • Dopaminergic and serotonergic modulation of BLA neurotransmission
  • Genetic and environmental mechanisms governing individual responses to chronic drug exposure and withdrawal
  • Strychnine-sensitive glycine receptor neurophysiology in adult forebrain


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