To date, our lab’s research has mainly focused on characterizing how seasonal changes in adrenal and gonadal steroid synthesis regulate aggressive behavior in male and female Siberian hamsters (reviewed in Munley et al. 2018, Frontiers in Endocrinology). Because the brain ultimately influences changes in social behavior, however, it is important to examine how the neural circuits mediating aggression are influenced by changes in season. The goal of this study is to characterize how seasonal differences in neural activation influence aggressive behavior in Siberian hamsters and to determine whether these activation patterns differ between males and females. Specifically, I will use c-Fos as a marker for neural activation and quantify c-Fos immunoreactive cells in brain regions that are associated with aggressive or reproductive behaviors.
This study is being conducted in collaboration with Misty Proffitt, a Ph.D. candidate in the Smith Lab at Indiana University.