Jennifer L. Bizon, Ph.D.
Department of Neuroscience (Joint Appointment in Department of Psychiatry)
University of Florida
1149 Newell Drive
PO Box 100244
Gainesville, FL 32611-0244
Office Phone: (352) 294-5149
Lab Phone: (352) 294-5028
Key Words: Aging; Memory; Executive Function; Plasticity
My research program integrates neuroanatomical, molecular, pharmacological, and behavioral methodologies in rodent models to identify the neural mechanisms of cognitive disorders. Our studies extend across multiple cognitive domains, including memory, executive function, and decision making, and focus on cognitive dysfunction resulting from aging and age-related disease, as well as from exposure to drugs of abuse such as cocaine and alcohol. A key element of our approach involves the investigation of individual differences and the direct linkage of individual behavior to specific cellular and molecular mechanisms. By better understanding those factors that contribute to loss of cognition, we hope to develop rational and effective interventions to promote cognitive health in vulnerable individuals.
Research Focus & Aims:
My primary research program is focused on understanding the neural mechanisms of learning, memory and executive functioning and how these processes are altered in the normal aging process. Our approach integrates cellular, molecular and pharmacological methodologies with rodent behavioral assays that assess memory, executive functions, and decision making. We are currently investigating whether alterations in corticolimbic GABAergic circuitry contribute to age-related executive dysfunction and are exploring whether this circuitry can be manipulated to improve cognitive trajectories across the lifespan. We are also interested in how distinct neurochemical systems (GABA, dopamine, and acetylcholine) contribute to age-related alterations in decision making processes. Finally, ongoing work in our laboratory is focused on understanding the mechanisms whereby early life exposure to environmental toxins and/or drugs of abuse (e.g., psychostimulants) contributes to the precipitous decline of synaptic plasticity and cognitive functioning across the lifespan.