Emulating physiological dopamine receptor activation in Parkinson’s Disease

John Reynolds is an Associate Professor in Neuroscience in the Department of Anatomy at University of Otago, New Zealand.

His research team studies the application of neuroplasticity approaches to Parkinson’s disease and stroke. His interest is in applying the principles of neuromodulation to modify synaptic plasticity and recover function in affected brain areas.

The primary focus of his research is on learning and movement generation processes in the basal ganglia and cerebral cortex. In the basal ganglia the emphasis is on unraveling the normal role of dopamine in learning and memory in vivo. Normal functioning of this process is critical to our ability to learn and perform new skills, whereas dysfunction of cells in the substantia nigra and striatum underlies the pathophysiology of brain disorders such as Parkinson’s and Huntington’s, respectively. This research involves a variety of techniques including electrophysiological recording, molecular biology, immunohistochemistry and operant behaviour.

He has received an international Brain Research Young Investigator Award and a National Tertiary Teaching Award, and he currently holds a Rutherford Discovery Fellowship from the Royal Society of NZ. He served 5 years as chair of the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Neurological Foundation of NZ and is a member of the Directorate for Brain Research New Zealand.