Dr Matthew Cooper

University of Tennessee, Knoxville USA

Research Interests

Aggression, dominance relationships, social stress, coping, resilience

Research statement

My laboratory is focused on the social, neuroendocrine, and neurochemical mechanisms regulating social stress and dominant/subordinate relationships. We use models of acute social defeat in Syrian hamsters and mice to investigate mechanisms underlying stress-induced changes in behavior. Projects in the lab are intended to improve understanding of the neurobiological mechanisms underlying stress-related psychopathologies. The lab employs a multidisciplinary approach and we use a variety of techniques including behavioral observation, stereotaxic surgery, microinfusion of pharmacological agents, hormone assays, immunohistochemistry, western blots, neuronal tract tracing, and qPCR.

Current and Future Directions

We have several ongoing research projects focused on the biological basis of susceptibility and resistance to stress. In one line of research we are studying whether changes in serotonin signaling within select brain regions, such as the amygdala, regulate the behavioral effects of social defeat in Syrian hamsters. Another line of research is focused on neurobiological mechanisms within the prefrontal cortex controlling resistance to the effects of social stress in dominant hamsters. We are also using mouse models to investigate whether brain-derived neurotrophic factor in the amygdala regulates the effects of social stress on anxiety and alcohol consumption