Matthew Paul, Ph.D.
Summary of Research Interests
The overall goal of research in my laboratory is to understand how behavior is shaped by the interplay of the brain, hormones, and the environment. Current projects fall under one of two themes:
1) Sex differences in neuropeptide regulation of adolescent social development. Adolescence comprises the formative years during which individuals reach sexual maturity and develop social, emotional, and cognitive skills necessary to assume adult status in the community. Many sex differences in the brain and behavior arise during this period, including sex differences in susceptibility, onset, and severity of neuropsychiatric and behavioral disorders (e.g. autism spectrum disorders, schizophrenia, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). My laboratory seeks to understand the underlying roots of these sex differences by studying the role of neuropeptides (e.g. vasopressin and oxytocin) and pubertal hormones in the development of social behaviors. Typical behaviors we study include social play behavior and ultrasonic vocalizations of rats and hamsters.
2) Impact of the social environment on biological rhythms. Social cues enable animals to synchronize their behaviors to achieve common goals or to avoid each other to lessen competition for resources. The mechanisms by which these cues impact behavioral timing are not understood. We track individual locomotor activity and body temperature rhythms of group-housed mice and hamsters to understand the role of the circadian system in the temporal organization of animal couples and communities.
- Paul MJ, Terranova JI, Probst CK, Peters NV, Murray EK, Ismail NI, Kim AM, Shah CR, and De Vries GJ (2014). Sexually dimorphic role for vasopressin in the development of social play behavior. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience 8:58.
- Paul MJ, Premananda I, and Schwartz WJ (2014). Social forces can impact the circadian clocks of cohabiting hamsters. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 281: 20132535.
- De Vries GJ, Fields CT, Peters NV, Whylings J, and Paul MJ (2014). Sensitive periods for hormonal programming of the brain. Current Topics in Behavioral Neuroscience. Current Topics in Behavioral Neuroscience 16:79-108.
- Taylor PVG, Veenema AH, Paul MJ, Bredewold R, Isaacs S, and de Vries GJ (2012). Sexually dimorphic effects of a prenatal immune challenge on social play and vasopressin expression in juvenile rats. Biology of Sex Differences 3:15.
- Paul MJ, Pyter LM, Freeman DA, Galang J, and Prendergast BJ (2009). Photic and non-photic seasonal cues differentially engage hypothalamic kisspeptin and RFamide-related peptide mRNA expression in Siberian hamsters. Journal of Neuroendocrinology 21:1007-1014.
- Paul MJ, Galang J, Schwartz WJ, and Prendergast BJ (2009). Intermediate-duration day lengths unmask reproductive responses to non-photic environmental cues. American Journal of Physiology: Regulatory, Integrative, and Comparative Physiology 296:R1613-R1619.
- Paul MJ, Zucker I, and Schwartz WJ (2008). Tracking the seasons: The internal calendars of animals. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London Series B 363: 341-361.
- Paul MJ and Schwartz WJ (2007). On the chronobiology of cohabitation. 72nd Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Symposium: Clocks & Rhythms 72:615-621.