Michael Lattanzi

Mentor: Dr. Mark Lewis
College of Medicine
 
"I have been interested with autism ever since my younger brother was diagnosed when I was nine years old. I have continually sought to better understand the mechanisms underlying the behaviors central to autism and how they can best be treated."

Major

Neurobiological Sciences

Minor

N/A

Research Interests

  • Autism
  • Repetitive Behavior
  • Pharmacology

Academic Awards

  • Max Planck Florida Institute Scientific Fellow
  • University Scholars
  • Dean's List

Organizations

  • Impact Autism
  • Broward Teaching Center

Volunteer

  • UF Center for Autism and Related Disabilities

Hobbies and Interests

  • Tennis
  • Traveling

Research Description

Attentuation of Repetitive Behaviors via GABAb Agonist R-Baclofen
Restricted, Repetitive Behaviors (RRBs) are characterized by behaviors that are inflexible, persistent, and apparently functionless. These behaviors are central to a variety of neurodevelopmental, psychiatric, and neurological disorders including autism, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and Rett’s Syndrome. Our lab utilizes an animal model to study these behaviors. Previous work in our lab has implicated alterations in cortical basal ganglia circuitry in these behaviors, specifically decreased activity along the indirect pathway of the basal ganglia. In both the direct and indirect pathway the most common neuronal cell is the GABAergic medium spiny neuron, and thus GABAergic signaling is critical for the functioning of both pathways. My project will examine the effectiveness of the GABAb agonist R-baclofen in attenuating repetitive behavior in our animal model. These pharmacological experiments will involve acute and chronic systemic drug administration. This will be followed up by immunohistochemical experiments to determine patterns of neuronal activation induced by the drug that are related to attenuation of repetitive behavior.