Dr. Cohen's Research Projects

We use the green anole lizard (Anolis carolinensis) to study both seasonal and sex differences in the brain. We study various aspects of seasonal and sex differences, such as gene expression patterns, morphology of the brain (brain structure and neuron numbers) and neurogenesis (the addition of new neurons to the brain). Ultimately, we would like to include behavioral experiments examining how these seasonal and sex differences impact behaviors, as well as developmental studies examining neural development.

There are two main questions that we are working on in the lab:

  1. How does the brain regulate the production of gonadal steroid hormones?
    • We are examining the seasonal regulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis. Specifically, we are interested in how this hormonal system is regulated differently in times of the year when breeding occurs (summer) or when breeding is inhibited (winter).
  2. How do gonadal steroid hormones impact the brain?
    • We are examining the effect of these hormones on brain morphology, gene/protein expression, and the addition of new neurons.

To answer these questions, we utilize histology, various molecular techniques (DNA/RNA), and immunohistochemistry.