Luke Remage-Healey

Associate Professor of Psychology, University of Massachusetts

Email: healey@cns.umass.edu
L. Remage-Healey Psychology Dept. Web Site
L. Remage-Healey Lab Web Site

Ph.D.: Cornell University
Postdoctoral Training: University of California, Los Angeles

Forebrain Circuit Physiology and Neuroendocrinology

Research in the Healey lab is focused on the neural basis of natural behavior. We use songbirds as a research model of vocal learning and brain plasticity. Over 50 years of intensive study of songbird behavior and brain function have provided a detailed roadmap of the neural circuits that are involved in singing, song learning, and audition. Our lab is interested in the modulation of song circuitry by the actions of local neurochemicals. For example, changing levels of dopamine can change the pattern or ?tone? of neural circuit activity, enabling many flexible outputs from the same circuit. We think this modulation allows interconnected forebrain circuits to subserve a wide variety of complex behaviors, like singing, song learning, and song memory.

The forebrain of vocal learning species, such as humans and songbirds, has several features in common, including local production of steroid hormones (estrogens and androgens). Changes in local steroid levels within forebrain circuits can therefore influence communication behavior and vocal learning. We study these phenomena in songbirds using a variety of thechnical approaches including in vivo microdialysis, electrophysiology, immunocytochemistry, and neuropharmacology. Songbirds offer a unique model system in which brain steroid production is widespread and especially pronounced, and in which the development and expression of a suite of social behaviors is accessible in the laboratory and natural environments.

Representative publications:

Remage-Healey, L., Dong, S.M., Chao, A., Schlinger, B.A. (2012) Sex-specific, rapid neuroestrogen fluctuations and neurophysiological actions in the songbird auditory forebrain. Journal of Neurophysiology In press

Remage-Healey, L., Maidment, N.T., Dong, S.M.*, and Schlinger, B.A. (2011) Presynaptic control of rapid estrogen fluctuations in the songbird auditory forebrain. Journal of Neuroscience Jul 6;31(27):10034-8

Chao, A.P.*, Schlinger, B.A., and Remage-Healey, L. (2011) Combined liquid and solid-phase extraction improves quantification of brain estrogen content. Fronteirs in Neuroanatomy 5:57-59

Remage-Healey, L. Coleman, M.E., Oyama, R.K.*, and Schlinger B.A. (2010) Brain estrogens rapidly strengthen auditory encoding and guide song preference in a songbird. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, In Press.

Remage-Healey, L. and Bass A.H. (2010) Estradiol interacts with opioidergic network to acheive rapid modulation of a vocal central pattern generator. J Comp Physiol A. In Press.

Remage-Healey, L., Oyama R.K. and Schlinger B.A. (2009) Elevated aromatase activity in forebrain synaptic terminals during song. J Neuroendocrinol. 21:191-199.

Remage-Healey, L., Maidment N.T., and Schlinger B.A. (2008) Forebrain steroid levels fluctuate rapidly during social interactions. Nature Neurosci. 11(11):1327-1334.

Remage-Healey, L. and Bass A.H. (2007) Plasticity in brain sexuality is revealed by the rapid actions of steroid hormones. J Neurosci. 27(5):1114-1122.

*denotes undergraduate author