About Denise Jackson
Dr. Jackson’s research focuses on the effects of prenatal exposure to psychomotor stimulants (i.e., amphetamine, cocaine, etc.) on brain monoaminergic systems in developing rodent offspring. Her research group examines the impact of drug-induced alterations of these monoaminergic systems on post-synaptic function. These studies are particularly relevant to the issues of permanent neurological deficits in children exposed to stimulant drugs in utero, and to the development of more effective and specific drug therapies. A major goal of this research is to characterize short- and long-term effects of prenatal drug exposure in rat offspring. Of particular interest is elucidating these effects at the neuroanatomical and biochemical levels. The neuroanatomical studies involve the use of immunocytochemical staining techniques to visualize cells in the brain and a computer-assisted image analysis system for quantification of drug effects. Neurochemical investigations are aimed at elucidating the functional consequences of drug-induced anatomical alterations. Ongoing studies utilize an in vitro slice preparation and in vivo brain microdialysis to measure basal and evoked neurotransmitter release.
The primary focus of Dr. Jackson’s research is on how exposure to cocaine (and other psychostimulants including methamphetamine) during pregnancy affects neuronal interactions in the fetus throughout development. We utilize neurochemical and behavioral strategies to assess alterations in brain areas modulating motor function and reward throughout development.
The Neurotransmission and Brain Plasticity Lab studies how exposure to cocaine (and other psychostimulants including methamphetamine) during pregnancy affects neuronal interactions in the fetus throughout development.