labbenchResearch in my laboratory is focused on various aspects of Behavioral Neuroendocrinology. During development, the nervous system is vulnerable to a variety of environmental factors. In turn, these neurobiological changes are responsible for behavioral alterations. For instance, changes in the maternal environment can be responsible for individual differences in personality traits. Exposure to environmental contaminants during development can also alter social behavior. I am particularly interested in the role of social stress on the development of aggressive behavior during puberty, and in individual differences in stress responsiveness associated with differences in social behavior. Recent studies suggest that stress resulting from bullying plays a critical role in the appearance of abnormally violent behavior in teenagers. Fortunately, only a fraction of bullied adolescents become violent. We are using animal models to study the neurobiological mechanisms underlying changes in aggressive behavior caused by social stress during puberty. These studies allow us to better understand the neurotransmitter systems and neural networks coordinating aggressive responses by individuals. In addition, our studies with animals help us to draw predictions that are currently testing with human subjects.