Adriana Galvan, PhD, studies the brain regions involved in movement planning and execution known as the basal ganglia. These structures are deeply affected in movement disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease.
Dr. Galvan studies the basal ganglia functions and anatomy in rhesus macaques because the brain of these animals is closer to the human brain than other animal model and because macaques can provide a faithful model of the motor problems people who have Parkinson’s disease experience.
To understand the normal functionality of these structures, Dr. Galvan explores the electrical activity of neurons in the basal ganglia of nonhuman primates, using electrophysiological recordings. These recordings are complemented with optogenetic and chemogenetic techniques, which allow selective manipulations of specific brain circuits.
Dr. Galvan’s research also uses anatomical techniques, including light and electron microscopy approaches, to discover the detailed connections established between neurons of the basal ganglia. The goal of this research is to understand the ways in which parkinsonism affects the function and structure of the brain. This knowledge will help researchers develop new therapies that can help people who have Parkinson’s disease.
Dr. Galvan grew up and received her master’s and doctoral degrees in Mexico City, and she completed her post-doctoral training at Emory University. She has been part of the Yerkes Research Center faculty since 2009.