Office for People With Developmental Disabilities

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Behavioral Pharmacology Laboratory


Kathryn Chadman, PhD, Head

The research of the Behavioral Pharmacology Laboratory is focused on animal models of autism to determine the effects of drugs to modulate behaviors in mice related to the three behavioral diagnostic criteria for autism: impairments in social interaction and social communication and restricted and repetitive interests and behaviors. Mouse models, with behavioral deficits that can be related to human symptoms, provide animal models for initial evaluation of therapies, not possible with people. Drug treatments that are currently being used in the treatment of autism, as well as drug targets proposed to be involved in autism, can then be studied using mouse behaviors analogous to the human symptoms of autism. This approach is also potentially useful for mouse models of other developmental disorders. The laboratory also shares with other IBR scientists Dr. Chadman’s expertise in current concepts and procedures of drug modification of behavior, and assists in performing experiments with their model animals in the behavioral laboratory.

The following projects are being conducted by the laboratory:

  • Pharmacological evaluation of social behavior in mouse models of autism
  • Determination of the role of learning and memory in mouse models of autism spectrum disorders
  • Evaluation of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF)-overexpressing transgenic mice as a model for epilepsy
  • Evaluation of the effect of prenatal folic acid on the behavioral phenotypes of mice, in conjunction with the Structural Neurobiology Laboratory.