The Birdsong Lab at the University of Michigan

The Birdsong lab is investigating the molecules and circuits involved in mediating pain perception and addiction. We’re particularly interested in the mechanisms by which opioids modulate synaptic transmission and the results of this activation on circuit function. Our current work focuses on opioid signaling in thalamo-cortical and thalamo-striatal circuits.

Our studies utilize electrophysiological and imaging techniques to study the function and pharmacology of mu, delta, and kappa opioid receptors in modulating synaptic transmission. We combine these approaches with optogenetic and pharmacological manipulation of circuitry in mouse and rats to better understand how drugs of abuse such as morphine and fentanyl change communication between the thalamus, cortex, and striatum to affect pain and addiction related behaviors.