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Dr. Tomomi Karigo is an assistant professor in the Department of Neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Kennedy Krieger Institute.
Dr. Karigo obtained her bachelor’s degree in Zoology and her PhD in Neuroscience at the University of Tokyo, Japan. Her thesis work focused on the neuroendocrinological mechanisms of reproduction. As a postdoctoral scholar under the mentorship of David J. Anderson at Caltech, she studied hypothalamic neural circuits controlling innate social behaviors. In Spring 2022, Dr. Karigo joined Kennedy Krieger Institute.
Adolescence is a period of physical and psychological development during which a person develops from a child into an adult. Following the onset of puberty, increased hormonal levels stimulate the growth and transformation of a person’s physical appearance, development of the reproductive system and rewiring of the brain. Early life and puberty are vulnerable periods for stress. Stressful environments during puberty can profoundly affect the developing brain, leading to life-long disturbances in mental health. Various psychiatric disorders involving social behavior deficits, such as social phobia, aggression and anxiety, emerge during adolescence. However, little is known about how neural circuits that control social behaviors develop. Dr. Karigo seeks to understand how the social behavior circuit develops during puberty and the impact of stressful environments on the developing brain. To tackle these questions, the lab employs cutting-edge techniques in systems neuroscience, including in vivo neural activity recording from freely behaving animals, optogenetics and automated animal behavior tracking using rodent models. The team aims to improve basic knowledge in the developing social behavior neural circuit and advance therapeutics to prevent and treat psychiatric disorders involving social behavior deficits.