Paul Soto, Assistant Professor
My research interests are in (1) the use of laboratory models of psychiatric diseases and symptoms for the evaluation of potential therapeutic approaches, (2) the use of drugs and genetically engineered animals to identify the neurobiological bases of cognition and behavioral economic decision making, and (3) the investigation of short- and long-term effects of psychiatric medications. Some of my research has involved the investigation of the role of dopamine D2-like receptors in the mediation of food reinforcement processes and the long-term effects of exposure to ADHD stimulant medications and antipsychotic medications. This project is of particular importance due to the rise in prescribing of second-generation antipsychotics in children and adolescents and the significant metabolic effects these medications produce in humans. It remains unknown however whether exposure to second-generation antipsychotic medications during critical developmental periods produces long-term, post-drug, changes in cognition, metabolism, and body weight. Finally, my collaborator, Dr. Breanna Harris and I are in year 3 of an NIH R15 project to investigate the longitudinal profile of cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s transgenic mice. The goal of this project is to identify when deficits develop and how large deficits in memory and attention become as neuropathology develops in the transgenic mice. The data from this project will be used to design studies of pharmacotherapeutics by allowing precise determination of the timing of deficit development. Such information would be particularly useful for evaluating drugs with potential for preventing or halting deficit development or for reversing deficit development.