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Faculty, Neuroscience


Dr. Richard L. Hyson


University of Colorado, 1985

R. Bruce Masterton Professor of Psychology & Neuroscience

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Dr. Hyson is not recruiting a graduate student for Fall of 2023

Research Interests

Research addresses the fundamental question of how experience influences the nervous system. Sensory experience has a dramatic influence on the development of the nervous system and determines what organisms learn. We seek to understand the cellular underpinnings of such experience-dependent plasticity in the brain. We also examine basic science questions related to how the brain encodes acoustic information and how it encodes complex sequences of behavior. These interests are combined in our work on the neural plasticity that occurs during the learning of birdsong.

Current Research

To examine how the brain encodes acoustic information, we use of a slice preparation of the avian auditory brainstem. Whole cell patch clamp methods allow us to study the physiological properties of auditory neurons and the synaptic pharmacology of the neuronal circuitry. We also examine the effects of deafness on the developing auditory system. Early deafness results in the neuronal death and atrophy. Somehow, auditory experience keeps these neurons healthy. We are attempting to identify the important activity-dependent signal(s) for cell survival in this system and determine the cellular mechanisms of their action. Also, as part of a collaborative project (with Johnson, Bertram and Wu labs), we examine how the brain codes a complex sequence of behavior (the bird's song) and the neural plasticity that occurs while this behavior is learned. Our lab uses a brain slice preparation of brain areas that are involved in the learning and production of birdsong. We examine the physiological properties of neurons in this circuit as we seek to discover the learning-related changes in these properties that play a role in song production.

Selected Publications

Carroll BJ, Hyson RL, A Role for Inhibition in Deafness-Induced Plasticity of the Avian Auditory Brainstem, Neuroscience, 2016 PubMed

Hyson RL, Activity-dependent regulation of calcium and ribosomes in the chick cochlear nucleus, Neuroscience, 2016 PubMed

Hyson RL, Johnson F, Wu W, Two neural streams, one voice: Pathways for theme and variation in the songbird brain, Neuroscience, 2014 PubMed

Daou A, Ross MT, Johnson F, Hyson RL, Bertram R, Electrophysiological characterization and computational models of HVC neurons in the zebra finch, J Neurophysiol, 2013 PubMed

Stauffer TR, Elliott KC, Ross MT, Basista MJ, Hyson RL, Johnson F, Axial organization of a brain region that sequences a learned pattern of behavior, J Neurosci, 2012 PubMed

Carzoli KL, Hyson RL, In vivo analysis of the role of metabotropic glutamate receptors in the afferent regulation of chick cochlear nucleus neurons, Hear Res, 2011 PubMed

Stincic TL, Hyson RL, Localization of CB1 cannabinoid receptor mRNA in the brain of the chick (Gallus domesticus), Brain Res, 2008 PubMed

Bush AL, Carzoli KL, Hyson RL, The influence of chronic lithium administration on deafferentation-induced cellular changes in the chick cochlear nucleus, Neuroscience, 2008 PubMed

Bush AL, Hyson RL, Effects of lithium and deafferentation on expression of glycogen synthase kinase-3beta, NFkappaB, beta-catenin and pCreb in the chick cochlear nucleus, Brain Res, 2008 PubMed

Nicholas AH, Hyson RL, Afferent regulation of oxidative stress in the chick cochlear nucleus, Neuroscience, 2006 PubMed

Bush AL, Hyson RL, Lithium increases bcl-2 expression in chick cochlear nucleus and protects against deafferentation-induced cell death, Neuroscience, 2006 PubMed

Hyson RL, The analysis of interaural time differences in the chick brain stem, Physiol Behav, 2005 PubMed

Nicholas AH, Hyson RL, Group I and II metabotropic glutamate receptors are necessary for the activity-dependent regulation of ribosomes in chick auditory neurons, Brain Res, 2004 PubMed


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