The Beas Laboratory
The mission of the Beas Laboratory centers on elucidating the neuronal processes that guide motivation
What is Motivation?
Motivation is an adaptive process that helps individuals overcome obstacles to obtain essential needs and hence ensure survival.
Motivation is composed of multiple and interconnected components.
One of these components is the 'directionality' of motivation (the orientation of goal-oriented behavior), such as seeking food/shelter or avoiding pain.
Another one is the 'activational' component of motivation (the energizing of goal-oriented behaviors), such as increased vigor and persistence of these actions.
One of the missions of the Beas Laboratory is to place significance on dissecting these different abilities that make up motivational drive and investigate the neural circuits that drive each subcomponent of motivation.
How do we dissect the abilities that make up motivational drive?
We create and optimize behavioral assessments in rodent models that aim to test for these different abilities that make up motivation. Moreover, we use the help of transgenic mice and viral tools to examine which brain regions and networks are mediating these specific abilities.
We assess the role different areas of the brain play that are contributing to these different components of motivation.
For this, we can utilize a combination of transgenic mice, viral tools, anatomical techniques, calcium imaging - fiber photometry, circuit probing techniques (e.g. optogenetics and chemogenetics), pharmacology, and electrophysiology to identify and further dissect the contribution of specific neuronal populations that make up the distinct pathways involved in these abilities.
Why does studying motivation matter?
Motivation deficits are among the most common core features in many psychiatric disorders. For example, people suffering from severe depression usually display a low desire to pursue enjoyable activities or hobbies. In contrast, patients suffering from addiction and compulsive disorders tend to show aberrant and misplaced motivations.