Dr. Spencer's research is concerned with understanding the neurobiology of stress and circadian control of brain function. His laboratory is dedicated to determining the molecular, cellular and systems level response of the central nervous system to psychological stressors, and how that response may adapt as a result of prior stressor exposure. In addition, his laboratory studies the controlling mechanisms of a primary neuroendocrine stress response system, the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. A component of this research examines stress and circadian function interactions, especially in terms of their modulation of prefrontal cortex function. This basic research may have some relevance to understanding the underlying physiological changes that accompany clinical depression and other biomedical disorders that are associated with neuroendocrine dysfunction.
neurobiology of stress, stress response adaptation, glucocorticoid negative feedback control of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, circadian control of brain function, clock gene regulation, activity dependent gene expression