How the Brain's Dopamine Circuitry Helps Regulate Cognitive Flexibility and Reward-Seeking

Tuesday, May 9, 2023, 2:00 pm EDT
Meet the Scientist - May 2023

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that regulates many critical processes such as movement, cognition, motivation, reward/pleasure, and hormone secretion. Dysfunction of the dopamine system has been implicated in many brain disorders, including schizophrenia, OCD, ADHD and Parkinson’s disease. He will discuss his efforts to understand the organization and function of cortical dopamine circuitry and how it helps to regulate cognitive flexibility and reinforcement learning (the latter involves how we learn to optimize our behavior to obtain greatest rewards). Dr. Urs will also discuss his efforts to discover new ways of treating multiple psychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders.

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Presented by 
Nikhil Urs, Ph.D.
Nikhil Urs, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Pharmacology and Therapeutics

University of Florida

2018 Young Investigator Grant

Dr. Urs is originally from Mumbai India where he got his Masters in Cytogenetics in 2001. He earned his PhD in Cell Biology from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2007, after which he did a postdoc with Dr. Marc Caron at Duke University. At Duke, Dr. Urs focused on dopamine receptor signaling and schizophrenia, particularly focused on cortico-striatal crosstalk and drug discovery. In his own lab at the University of Florida, Dr. Urs has expanded on his postdoctoral work to understand the organization and function of dopamine receptor circuits in the cortex and how they regulate cognitive flexibility, reinforcement learning, and striatal dopamine.

Moderated by 
Jeffrey Borenstein, M.D.
Brain & Behavior Research Foundation

President and CEO

Jeffrey Borenstein, M.D., serves as the President & CEO of the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation, the largest private funder of mental health research grants. Dr. Borenstein developed the Emmy-nominated public television program “Healthy Minds,” and serves as host and executive producer of the series. The program, broadcast nationwide, is available online, and focuses on topics in psychiatry in order to educate the public, reduce stigma and offer a message of hope. Dr. Borenstein also serves as Editor-in-Chief of Psychiatric News, the newspaper of the American Psychiatric Association.

Dr. Borenstein is a Fellow of the New York Academy of Medicine and serves as the Chair of the Section of Psychiatry at the Academy. He also has served as the President of the New York State Psychiatric Association. Dr. Borenstein earned his undergraduate degree at Harvard and his medical degree at New York University.