A Message from Dr. Dan Rusyniak
My laboratory is committed to understanding the neurobiology of temperature regulation. As amphetamines are known to cause heat stroke, we have researched the neural pathways involved in mediating temperature responses to the drugs MDMA (ecstasy) and methamphetamine. These drugs cause heat stroke in part because they provoke profound locomotion. When animals are given amphetamines in a warm environment they may literally run themselves to death. A question our lab has sought to address is why? Normally athletes and animals develop exhaustion when their body reaches a critical temperature. Amphetamines seem to prevent this. This has led us to focus on brain regions that mediate locomotion and exhaustion in the rat. One such area is the dorsomedial hypothalamus (DMH). Our lab has recently shown that the DMH is involved in spontaneous locomotion provoked by amphetamines and that stimulating the DMH can prevent exhaustion during exercise. How MDMA and amphetamines activate this brain region is not known and is the current focus of our research.