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Ayesha Sengupta

DPhil Student

  • Based at National Institutes of Health (NIH), USA

My research investigates the 5-HT mechanisms that modulate fear-related neural circuits and behaviour.  It is evident that 5-HT pathways project to widespread targets throughout the brain, act on multiple receptor types, and control distinct behaviours. Much of the pioneering work exploring the functional role of 5-HT has applied pharmacological approaches. Recent technical advances have enabled us to selectively manipulate 5-HT neurons with great precison and fine-timing, while simultaneously monitoring cell activity and behavioural effects. Understanding the mechanisms through which 5-HT neurons operate endogenously provides the possibility of a more targeted therapeutic approach for affective disorders. I am using a combination of optogenetic, pharmacological and anatomical methods to study the function of 5-HT neurotransmission in physiological and behavioural events underlying fear regulation. These findings could be useful for identifying mechanisms that become dysregulated in conditions such as anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder or phobias.

I have a BA (Hons) in Natural Sciences (Cambridge) and MSc in Neuroscience (Oxford). I am currently carrying out a PhD and am supported by a Wellcome Trust-National Institutes of Health scholarship. My supervisors are Trevor Sharp (Pharmacology, Oxford), David Bannerman (Experimental Psychology, Oxford) and Andrew Holmes (National Institutes of Health, USA).