Many, if not all, of our behaviors are goal-directed. Motivational states serve to inform relevant goals at any given time. Additionally, much of our behavior is learned, acquired throughout our lifetime and dependent upon plasticity in the brain. I am interested in how motivation and memory interact to produce goal-directed behaviors under both pathological conditions and in situations reflecting natural, biological drives. My research takes a multi-structure approach to investigate adaptations in cortico-limbic-striatal circuits involved in the cognitive, motivational and behavioral components of drug addiction. The laboratory uses behavioral analyses in rats in combination with in vivo electrophysiology and molecular approaches to explore real-time neuronal coding across brain structures and identify target genes of interest and mechanisms of transcriptional regulation.
Kennedy, P.J., Feng, J., Robison, A.J., Maze, I., Badimon, A., Mouzon, E., Damez-Werno, D.M., Bassel-Duby, R., Olson, E.N. & Nestler, E.J. Class I HDAC Inhibition Blocks Cocaine-Induced Plasticity Through Targeted Changes in Histone Methylation. Nature Neuroscience, 16(4):434-40. doi: 10.1038/nn.3354. Epub 2013 Mar 10.
Kennedy, P.J. & Shapiro, M.L. (2009). Motivational States Activate Distinct Hippocampal Representations to Guide Goal-Directed Behaviors. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106(26), 10805-108010.
Sun, H.S., Maze, I., Dietz, D., Scobie, K., Kennedy, P.J., Damez-Werno, D., Neve, R., Zachariou, V., Shen, L. & Nestler, E.J. (2012). Morphine Epigenomically Regulates Behavior Through Alterations in Histone H3 Lysine 9 Dimethylation in the Nucleus Accumbens. Journal of Neuroscience, 32(48), 17454-64.
Sun, H., Kennedy, P.J. & Nestler, E.J. (2012). Epigenetics of the Depressed Brain: Role of Histone Acetylation and Methylation. Neuropsychopharmacology, 2013 Jan;38(1):124-37. doi: 10.1038/npp.2012.73. Epub 2012 Jun 13. Review.
Shapiro, M.L., Kennedy, P.J. & Ferbinteanu, J. (2006). Representing Episodes in the Mammalian Brain. Current Opinion in Neurobiology, 16(6), 701-709.
Kennedy, P.J. & Shapiro, M.L. (2004). Retrieving Memories via Internal Context Requires the Hippocampus. Journal of Neuroscience, 24(31), 6979-6985.