José A. Cánovas, Ph.D.

Title
Postdoctoral Fellow
Department
Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics
Institution
Columbia University
Address
701 W. 168th Street
Hammer Health Sciences Building, Room 517
City, State, Zip
New York, NY 10032
Phone
212-304-6642
E-mail
jc4598[at]cumc.columbia.edu
Website
http://www.columbia.edu/cu/zukerlab/Zuker_Lab.html
Research Field
Neuroscience
Award Year
2016
Country Of Origin
Chile
Mentor Name
Charles Zuker, Ph.D.

Research

The sense of taste guides animals to consume nutritive foods while avoiding potentially harmful compounds. A crucial feature of the taste system is that different tastes elicit distinctive innate reactions, such as strong attraction to sweets or wincing and gagging on things that are bitter. How are these reactions brought about by the brain? In the Zuker lab, I will study how a part of the brain called the amygdala weighs in on whether we find foods appealing or not. I will identify neurons in the amygdala that respond to sweet and bitter, determine whether activation of these neurons trigger predetermined behaviors—such as attraction or aversion—and assess whether animals can still react to sweet or bitter when these neurons are prevented from signaling. My work will help map out brain circuits that drive innate responses to different tastes and may provide a model to understand how the brain mediates behavior in response to attractive and aversive stimuli.