Professor Richard F. Thompson and his highly influential work on the brain substrates of associative learning and memory have critically shaped my research interests and scientific approach. I am tremendously grateful and thank Professor Thompson for the support and influence on my research and career. The focus of my research program is on associative learning and its role in the control of fundamental, motivated behaviors. My long-term research goal is to understand how learning enables environmental cues to control feeding behavior. We use a combination of behavioral studies and neural systems analysis approach in two well-defined rodent models to study how learned cues are integrated with homeostatic signals within functional forebrain networks, and how these networks are modulated by experience. Here, I will provide an overview of the two behavioral models and the critical neural network components mapped thus far, which include areas in the forebrain, the amygdala and prefrontal cortex, critical for associative learning and decision-making, and the lateral hypothalamus, which is an integrator for feeding, reward and motivation.
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