About the Lab
In the Warren Neuromodulation Lab we research how the brain optimizes cognitive performance under varying circumstances. Anyone who has made a puzzlingly poor decision under emotional duress, or who has felt as though time slowed down during a dangerous moment realizes that the brain works differently in different contexts. I study the neuromodulatory actions underlying these differences.
Neuromodulators such as norepinephrine and dopamine change the way that neurons communicate with each other, with the potential to improve the speed and precision of neural processing when needed. My research focuses on how these neuromodulator systems mediate the impact of factors such as arousal, danger, and motivation on learning, attention, and decision making. I study the activity of neuromodulators in healthy humans with two general approaches: (1) direct manipulation of neuromodulator levels such as with psychopharmacology or brain stimulation; and (2) indirectly inferring activity through biomarkers sensitive to varying neuromodulator levels.
We conduct electroencephalography (EEG) research, recording electrophysiological manifestations of brain activity at the scalp. We have two EEG systems (acti64Champ, Brain Vision LLC), as well as an eye-tracking machine (Eyelink 1000, SR Research).
Our lab space has three testing booths, a washing station, an office area for students, and a conference room. We have a corner suite with big windows and lots of natural light.
Norepinephrine is a neuromodulator that boosts the excitability of major motor anatomy in the central nervous system. Several projects in my lab are directed at understanding how norepinephrine facilitates reacting to balance perturbations in service of preventing injury.
Non-invasive brain stimulation is emerging as a method for treating psychological disorders such as depression, and deficiencies such as impaired balance. We are investigating the hormonal and behavioral effects of galvanic vestibular stimulation, a method of improving balance in the elderly that may have wider ranging effects than originally assumed.
Dopamine is a neuromodulator that plays a key role in learning from the positive and negative outcomes of actions. Norepinephrine modulates activity throughout the neocortex to facilitate reacting to unexpected outcomes. We are examining how dopamine and norepinephrine interact in executive regions of the front lobe to promote adaptive decision making.
Potential PhD students interested in working in the Warren Neuromodulation Lab should contact Dr. Christopher Warren directly via email or fill out the form below.