Fluid Homeostasis Group
Our group specialises in the study of the neural circuitry underlying fluid homeostasis – how the brain regulates fluid balance and electrolyte concentrations to maintain a stable environment. Our research also focuses on other topics related to behavioural neuroscience and mental health. One such aspect is studying the neurobiological mechanisms underlying the drive to consume highly rewarding foods and fluids, and how this behaviour can contribute to obesity and other health problems. We also investigate the relationship between anxiety, depression, and addiction, and the underlying circuitry in these conditions, to explore potential new treatments. More recently, we have also begun research into the role of psychedelics on mood regulation and addiction.
- The oxytocin system in sugar and alcohol intake
- The role of the oxytocin system in psilocybin
- The role of bombesin-3 system in controlling palatable food and fluid intake
- Mouse behaviour, including paradigms to study anxiety and addiction
- Genetically encoded techniques, including optogenetics, chemogenetics, calcium imaging
- Mouse stereotaxic surgery
About our research
We specialise in studying the neural circuitry underlying fluid homeostasis, which is the study of how the brain regulates fluid balance and electrolyte concentrations to maintain a stable internal environment. Our group is led by Dr Philip Ryan, who discovered a group of neurons in the hindbrain parabrachial nucleus which regulated fluid satiation, and has been expanding these findings to understand the role of this nucleus in controlling alcohol and sugary drinks, and binge-drinking behaviour.
In addition to our work on fluid homeostasis, our group also conducts research on a range of other topics related to behavioural neuroscience and mental health. One of our areas of focus is on palatable food and fluid intake (such as soft drinks), which involves studying the neurobiological mechanisms underlying the drive to consume highly rewarding foods and fluids, and how this behaviour can contribute to obesity and other health problems.
Our group also investigates the relationship between anxiety, depression, and addiction. We study the neural circuits and molecular mechanisms involved in these conditions and explore potential treatments for them. More recently, we have also begun research the role of psychedelics on mood regulation and addiction, and their interaction with neuroendocrine circuits, and how these might contribute to therapeutic effects.
- Dr Natasha Pracejus
Research and technical staff
- Mina Takawy
- Joseph Nagle
- Ryan, P.J., Ross, S.I., Campos, C.A., Derkach, V.A. and Palmiter, R.D. (2017). Oxytocin-receptor-expressing neurons in the parabrachial nucleus regulate fluid intake. Nature Neuroscience, 20(12), pp.1722–1733. doi:https://doi.org/10.1038/s41593-017-0014-z.
- Saker, P., Carey, S., Grohmann, M., Farrell, M.J., Ryan, P.J., Egan, G.F., McKinley, M.J. and Denton, D.A. (2020). Regional brain responses associated with using imagination to evoke and satiate thirst. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 117(24), pp.13750–13756. doi:https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2002825117.
- Ryan, P.J. (2018). The Neurocircuitry of fluid satiation. Physiological Reports, 6(12), p.e13744. doi:https://doi.org/10.14814/phy2.13744.
- McKinley, M.J., Pennington, G.L. and Ryan, P.J. (2021). The median preoptic nucleus: A major regulator of fluid, temperature, sleep, and cardiovascular homeostasis. Handbook of Clinical Neurology, pp.435–454. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/b978-0-12-819975-6.00028-5.
- McKinley, M.J. and Ryan, P. (2019). Stress and Salt Appetite. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/b978-0-12-813146-6.00027-8.