Alexxai Kravitz, PhD
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Washington University in St. Louis (WU)
Dr. Kravitz is interested in the study of basal ganglia circuits and how their function changes in disease states such as obesity, addiction, and anxiety disorders. Under normal conditions, the basal ganglia drives animals toward the selection of adaptive behavioral outcomes. Learning can bias this selection process toward specific behavior by altering synapses within and outside the basal ganglia. Unfortunately, these same synaptic alterations can be hijacked by disease, resulting in unhealthy behavioral outputs, such as in obesity and drug addiction. Using high throughput behavioral testing, optogenetics, and electrical and optical brain recordings, the Kravitz lab characterizes changes in behavior in animal models of disease, and attempts to understand the neural correlates and causes of these changes.