Daniel Wesson studies how the brain processes sensory information, including odors, to influence emotions, cognition and decisions. Daniel's lab, the Wesson Lab, explores the neural processing of sensory information in the context of behavior. Daniel's research also involves the neural basis of sensory dysfunction in neurological disorders, including dementias and addiction, wherein sensory processing is aberrant. He is an associate professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics in the College of Medicine.
Areas of Expertise (5)
Smell, Learning & Memory
The roles of rat medial prefrontal and orbitofrontal cortices in relapse to cocaine-seeking: a comparison across methods for identifying neurocircuitsAddiction Neuroscience
Javier R.Mesa, et. al
A large body of research supports the notion that regions of the rodent frontal cortex regulate reinstatement of cocaine seeking after cessation of intravenous cocaine self-administration. However, earlier studies identifying the roles of medial (mPFC) and orbital prefrontal cortices (OFC) in reinstatement relied on pharmacological inactivation methods, which indiscriminately inhibited cells within a target region. Here, we first review the anatomical borders and pathways of the rat mPFC and OFC. Next, we compare and contrast findings from more recent cocaine seeking and reinstatement studies that used chemogenetics, optogenetics, or advanced tracing to manipulate specific local cell types or input/output projections of the mPFC and OFC subregions.
Self-directed orofacial grooming promotes social attraction in mice via chemosensory communicationIscience
Yun-FengZhang, et. al
Self-grooming is a stereotyped behavior displayed by nearly all animals. Among other established functions, self-grooming is implicated in social communication. However, whether self-grooming specifically influences behaviors of nearby individuals has not been directly tested, partly because of the technical challenge of inducing self-grooming in a reliable and temporally controllable manner. We recently found that optogenetic activation of dopamine D3 receptor expressing neurons in the ventral striatal islands of Calleja robustly induces orofacial grooming in mice.
State-dependent olfactory processing in freely behaving miceCell reports
Mary R.Schreck, et. al
Decreased responsiveness to sensory stimuli during sleep is presumably mediated via thalamic gating. Without an obligatory thalamic relay in the olfactory system, the anterior piriform cortex (APC) is suggested to be a gate in anesthetized states. However, olfactory processing in natural sleep states remains undetermined. Here, we simultaneously record local field potentials (LFPs) in hierarchical olfactory regions (olfactory bulb [OB], APC and orbitofrontal cortex) while optogenetically activating olfactory sensory neurons, ensuring consistent peripheral inputs across states in behaving mice.
Reducing local synthesis of estrogen in the tubular striatum promotes attraction to same-sex odors in female miceHormones and Behavior
Katherine N Wright, et. al
Brain-derived 17β-estradiol (E2) confers rapid effects on neural activity. The tubular striatum (TuS, also called the olfactory tubercle) is both capable of local E2 synthesis due to its abundant expression of aromatase and is a critical locus for odor-guided motivated behavior and odor hedonics. TuS neurons also contain mRNA for estrogen receptors α, β, and the G protein-coupled estrogen receptor. We demonstrate here that mRNA for estrogen receptors appears to be expressed upon TuS dopamine 1 receptor-expressing neurons, suggesting that E2 may play a neuromodulatory role in circuits which are important for motivated behavior.