What is Neuroscience?
Neuroscience is the study of the nervous system. At TRIPEC we are studying the brain and how it functions. Our ultimate goal is to discover aspects of brain functioning in neuropsychiatric disorders in order to find ways of treating these disorders.
To advance our understanding of brain functioning we use mathematical models of how animals and humans perform tasks. These approaches are used to examine complex patterns of behavior. The key point of our analytic approach is that complex, nonlinear and apparently random events are in fact mediated by lawful systems. The application of non-linear analyses to the study of neuropsychiatric disorders has provided new insights into the brain functioning and behavior of people with these disorders.
The last decade has brought a rapid accumulation of information concerning all aspects of brain science, especially in the disciplines of psychiatry, psychology, pharmacology and neurology. The goal of TRIPEC is to create novel ways of studying brain functioning, and to identify novel approaches for treating neuropsychiatric disorders such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, drug dependence, and other conditions.
What is Exploratory Behavior?
Exploratory behavior is a complex and dynamic interaction between an organism and its immediate environment. The structure of the behavior is a result of the interaction between environmental input and the neuronal mechanisms of the organism. One means of studying exploration in a controlled setting is with open-field testing. Open-field behavior has been traditionally considered to be complex and relatively random, and therefore has required the use of non-traditional statistical analyses in order to fully characterize exploration. In the seminal work by Dr. Geyer, he and his colleagues developed a behavioral pattern monitor to assess the spatial and temporal sequences of rodents. We have created an open-field test for humans to measure concepts such as exploration, novelty seeking, object interaction, locomotion, perseverative processing, and decision making.
What are Neuropsychiatric Disorders?
Neuropsychiatry is a specialty branch of medicine that focuses on mental disorders attributable to the brain or central nervous system.
Neuropsychiatric disorders such as manic depression (bipolar disorder) and schizophrenia are complex behavioral disorders. One of the cardinal features of neuropsychiatric disorders is impaired cognitive processing. Cognitive processing refers to the underlying functions that are involved in everyday problem-solving behavior. These cognitive functions include the ability to attend to and learn information, to retrieve learned information for further use, and to process complex information in order to efficiently solve problems. When these cognitive processes are impaired they manifest as behavioral symptoms that are hallmarks of neuropsychiatric disorders, including disorganized thinking (thought disorder), that results in problems successfully navigating everyday life. One central element of complex cognitive processing that is dysfunctional in patients with neuropsychiatric disorders is the ability to withhold action or thought, referred to as inhibition. Inhibitory deficits are key features of the mania observed in bipolar disorder as well as in schizophrenia. A primary focus of our work is to assess inhibitory problems in patients with neuropsychiatric disorders and animal models.