Basal ganglia neurobiology and the generation of appetitive behaviors

My research is concerned with understanding how the neurotransmitters of the basal ganglia contribute to the generation of appetitive behaviors. I am interested in the impact of the ascending mesencephalic dopamine systems. These groups of neurons, while relatively small, project to a large number of forebrain sites and profoundly influence motor and affective behaviors. We seek to understand how these systems interact with others to produce such effects, how these neurotransmitter interactions are changed when an organism is exposed repeatedly to various pharmacological stimuli and environmental conditions, and how these changes in neurotransmission translate to changes in behavior.