Primary Faculty/Secondary Faculty

Ariel Deutch, Ph.D.

Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

James G. Blakemore Chair in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Nashville, TN, 8645
(615) 327-7080 (office)

Research Description

Central dopamine (DA) systems are critically involved in a number of neuropsychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia and Parkinson's disease. Our lab focuses on the studies of the DA innervations of prefrontal cortex and striatal complex, using a number of anatomical, biochemical and molecular approaches.

Studies on the prefrontal cortical DA innervation seek to delineate the anatomical organization of the projections and to define the mechanisms through which alterations in cortical DA systems transsynaptically regulate subcortical systems. The latter studies involve two broad experimental strategies: biochemical studies aimed at characterizing the regulation of GABAergic interneurons in the cortex by DA, and examination of the regulatory changes induced in subcortical DA systems by selective destruction of the cortical DA innervations. A major effort is devoted to understanding how antipsychotic drugs, particularly atypical antipsychotic drugs, elicit their therapeutic and side effects.

Studies of the DA innervation of the striatum aim to understand the progressive nature of Parkinson's disease, particularly changes in dendritic spines of neurons that receive convergent dopaminergic and glutamatergic inputs. To this end we use both structural and biochemical measures to study the plasticity of dendritic spines following striatal dopamine depletion.

A third set of studies explores the mechanisms of action of hallucinogens and their ability to alter thalamocortical and corticothalamic signaling. We are particularly interested in dissociating event initiating at the thalamus or cortex determining if ability of hallucinogens to activate the cortex.

Selected Publications