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Sisk Cheryl Sisk
University Distinguished Professor
Adjunct Professor, Department of Physiology
Ph.D. Psychobiology/Neuroscience, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL 1980
Masters Psychology, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL 1976
Bachelors Psychology, Baylor University, Waco, TX 1974
Primary Program: Behavioral Neuroscience
138 Giltner
(517) 355-5253

Research Statement
Research in the Sisk Lab is directed toward understanding the neural, endocrine, and behavioral changes that take place during puberty and adolescence. Adult cognition, social behaviors, responses to sensory stimuli, and responses to environmental stressors are remarkably different from those of the juvenile organism. Thus, the juvenile-to-adult transition is a fundamental period of neural development. Some recent work in the Sisk lab has focused on structural changes in the hamster amygdala during adolescence, and how this may be relevant for changes in the processing of sensory stimuli and their effects on behavior. Other projects focus on the role of steroid hormones in the neurogenesis and gliogenesis that occurs during adolescent brain development. This work has direct implications for human adolescent development and human mental health because a number of sex-biased psychopathologies (e.g., eating disorders, depression, and schizophrenia) emerge during adolescence. Furthermore, the influence of steroids on developmental processes in the human adolescent nervous system is altered or perturbed by a variety of circumstances, including the delay of gonadal development brought about by eating disorders, extreme exercise, or disease, the abuse of anabolic androgenic steroids, and exposure to environmental endocrine disruptors. The Sisk lab hopes to establish the temporal and developmental parameters within which steroid hormones impact nervous system during puberty in order to fully define and understand periods of vulnerability for the development of behavioral pathologies.

Related Research Websites
The Sisk Lab The common theme of research projects in the Sisk Lab is the influence of steroid hormones on nervous system structure and function. Gonadal steroids, such as testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone, profoundly affect neuronal activity, connectivity within neural circuits, and behavior at different stages of life, including early neural development, puberty, and in adulthood. Neural and behavioral responses to steroid hormones vary with developmental stage. Our work focuses on the role of pubertal hormones in shaping development of the adolescent brain and maturation of adult behaviors, and it contributes to an understanding of the ways and extent to which the capacity for functional plasticity within the nervous system changes across the lifespan. Research in the Sisk Lab is a combination of neuroendocrinology, developmental neurobiology, and behavioral neuroscience. We employ a variety of experimental techniques, ranging from analysis of gene expression to analysis of behavior.

Research Publications    
2010Klump, K.L., Keel, P.K., Sisk, C.L., & Burt, S.A. (2010). Preliminary evidence that estradiol moderates genetic effects on disordered eating attitudes and behaviors during puberty. Psychological Medicine, 40(10), 1745-1754
2008Salas-Ramirez, K.Y., Montalto, P.R., and Sisk, C.L. (2008). Anabolic androgenic steroids differentially affect social behaviors in adolescent and adult male Syrian hamsters. Hormones and Behavior 53:378-85.
2008Bucci, D.J., Hopkins, M.E., Nunez, A.A., Breedlove, S.M., Sisk, C.L, and Nigg, J.T. (2008) Effects of sex hormones on associative learning in the spontaneously hypertensive rat. Physiology and Behavior 93:651-57.
2008Zehr, J.L, Nichols, L.R., Schulz, K.M., and Sisk, C.L. (2008). Adolescent development of neuron structure in dentate gyrus granule cells. Developmental Neurobiology 68:1517-26.
2008Ahmed, E.I., Zehr, J.L., Schulz, K.M., Lorenz, B.H., DonCarlos, L.L., and Sisk, C.L. (2008). Pubertal hormones modulate the addition of new cells to sexually dimorphic brain regions. Nature Neuroscience 11:995-97.
2008Sato, S.M., Schulz, K.M., Sisk C.L. and Wood, R.I. (2008). Adolescents and androgens, receptors and rewards. Hormones and Behavior 53:647-58 (Special Issue on Androgens in health and disease: New insights into roles and mechanisms of action).