The Golden Lab.

Located at HSB F-524.


The University of Washington

Department of Biological Structure


The Golden Lab focuses on understanding the neural mechanisms and circuits guiding motivated social behavior, with a special interest in aggression reward, addiction and depression. We use chemogenetics, optogenetics, calcium imaging, whole-mount light-sheet fluorescent microscopy and machine-learning approaches. Please see Select Publications for further information.


APPETITive aggression

Aggression is often comorbid with neuropsychiatric diseases, including drug addiction, depression and PTSD. One form, appetitive aggression, exhibits symptomatology that mimics that of drug addiction and is hypothesized to be due to dysregulation of addiction-related reward circuits. However, our mechanistic understanding of the circuitry modulating appetitive aggression is limited. The Golden Lab focuses on identifying these basic mechanisms.

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Addiction is a debilitating societal issue and disease. A major component of addiction is centered around social behavior, yet the neural mechanisms underlying maladaptive social behavior and addiction are rarely the focus of research. The Golden Lab examines the roles both pro- and anti-social behaviors in addiction processes. We focus, but are not limited to, the role of maladaptive appetative aggression during withdrawal and relapse, as well as the transition from adaptive aggression to compulsive addiction-like aggressive behavior.

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 Depression and PTSD

In males, inappropriate and maladaptive aggression is one of the most self-reported diagnostic symptoms of depression and PTSD. The Golden Lab is currently working towards identifying the common and unique mechanisms guiding this comorbidity, with the goal of identifying novel therapeutic approaches for treating aggression comorbid with depression and PTSD.


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