Christian Ebbesen, Ph.D.
BBRF Grantee: 2020 – 2022
Christian Ebbesen, Ph.D., New York University, proposes that during healthy social interactions, oxytocin neurons in the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus release oxytocin, modulating inhibitory transmission in sensory cortical areas to “decorate” incoming sensory signals with the appropriate “social significance.” Thus oxytocin is therapeutically promising for many conditions in which there is abnormal processing of social stimuli. This project will ask: what drives the activity of oxytocin neurons, moment-to-moment, during naturalistic social interactions? (2) can we affect behavior during social interaction by modulating the oxytocin neuron activity optogenetically? Dr. Ebbesen will explore answers using a novel behavioral tracking system that combines 3D videography, deep learning, and physical modeling to track socially interacting mice during naturalistic interactions.