On Thursday, May 20, 2021, Douglas Miller, predoc fellow, will defend his thesis entitled “Differential sensitivity of the SNC and VTA dopaminergic networks.”
The motivation behind the thesis, Miller says, was to better understand complex network properties of dopaminergic brain regions that make them sensitive to neuronal loss and disease.
This is the first study that has examined dopaminergic networks using complex network theory, it creates a foundation for many future studies of dopamine neurobiology and implications in disease.
The most exciting finding to Miller was the “difference in network hubs (strongly interconnected neurons), which are more prominent in the VTA than SNC, and therefore the loss of hub neurons will more strongly affect neuronal communication in the SNC.”
Miller explains, “Despite many similarities between dopaminergic brain regions, there are important features that enable function separation and show that the nature of dopamine is more than just reward.”
Miller primarily focuses on the dopaminergic system, dopamine transporter, and complex network theory.