The ultimate motivation for studying the AOB is to better understand how specific olfactory experiences lead to the formation of stable behavioral programs.
Because the AOS communicates directly with potent behavioral centers in the midbrain and limbic system, it is hard-wired to directly modulate behavioral states (think “moods”). The establishment of sex-typical behaviors in mice requires the proper function of the VNO, AOB, and their downstream neural partners in the AOS. However, we still do not understand what these circuits provide that leads to the establishment of sex-typical behaviors in the first place. We also do not yet understand how the neurons within the AOB shape information flow over time.
In the Meeks Lab, we are studying the role of neural plasticity in shaping animal social behaviors using transgenic mice and quantitative behavioral approaches.