Brain, Blood Pressure and Stress
You are about to give a public talk. Your heart is racing, your hands are sweaty, your guts are knotted, your hands shake and your voice quivers. How is this happening? What are the pathways in the brain controlling this response? The research conducted in the Brain, Blood Pressure and Stress laboratory aims to understand how the brain controls the autonomic and cardiovascular changes associated with stress, emotions and exercise. The approach used is a system approach combining anatomical and physiological tools as well as behavioural observation. The work is done in conscious rats.
We use two main approaches:
Immunohistochemical detection of c-Fos to map activated parts of the brain during emotional stressors and exercise.
C-Fos can be combined with retrograde tracing between different parts of the brain to identified nodes in the network.
C-Fos can be combined with immunohistochemical or in situ hybridisation labelling of neurotransmitters or their enzymes to identify the chemical profile of relays in the network.
Telemetric recording of blood pressure, heart rate, body temperature and activity in freely moving animals during tests via implanted probes.
Infrared thermographic recording of surface temperature (cutaneous blood flow).
Grants & Funding
Research in the laboratory is currently supported by a three-year NHMRC grant (2012-2014). There has been continuous support from NHMRC or NHF for the past 13 years.
Current projects centre on the role of the neuropeptide orexin and its two receptors in the expression of the autonomic and behavioural response to stress.