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Dr. Thanos

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Mike Michaelides M.A.

Doctoral candidate at SUNY at Stony Brook- Biological Psychology

Tel: 631-344-7056


Research Interests

My research experience consists of preclinical training in behavioral and imaging research. During this training I have participated in several experiments that fall within the context of drug abuse, obesity and computational neuroimaging research. As a result of my training, I have extensive experience in rodent behavioral testing, surgical and tissue processing techniques, and in-vivo and in-vitro imaging.

Dopamine (DA) is a catecholamine neurotransmitter with a well-documented role in motivation and goal-directed behavior. Clinical studies have previously documented low DA D2 receptor (D2R) binding availability in the striatum of obese individuals and chronic cocaine users. These studies have suggested that low concentrations of D2R or impaired DA-D2R signaling in the striatum may underlie deficits in goal-directed behaviors that can lead to excessive food and cocaine seeking/consumption and eventually to obesity and drug addiction. Leptin, a peripheral messenger that conveys the status of long-term energy (fat) stores to the brain modulates striatal DA-D2R signaling. Under normal physiological conditions, low leptin levels signal to the brain that energy stores are inadequate while high leptin levels indicate that energy requirements are met. My research interests focus on how changes in peripheral leptin signaling affect DA-D2R interactions in the striatum and whether these effects are dependent upon individual susceptibility to weight gain and cocaine preference. Consequently, leptin-responsive striatal DA neurons may receive signals and initiate the goal-directed behavior required for seeking food/cocaine. The central premise is that leptin is an adiposity signal whose effects are not limited to homeostatic mechanisms as originally thought, but also to goal-directed behavior and that this behavior is modulated in part via leptin’s action on the mesolimbic DA system. The direct interaction between an adiposity signal such as leptin and striatal D2R has not yet been investigated. Studying this relationship will lead to a better understanding of DA and D2R-related mechanisms in energy regulation and how these are related to compulsive behaviors such as overeating and cocaine abuse.





Brookhaven National Lab
P.O. Box 5000
Upton, NY 11973-5000