Most every day we engage in hundreds of social interactions with strangers, co-workers, friends, and family (in-person and online). How we interact with others affects the quality of our relationships and our lives. Moment-to-moment, our social interactions are influenced by two big factors: our internal state (social motivation, anxiety, hunger, etc), and how we make sense of our external environment (what we’re seeing, hearing, etc). In my research, I study animal behavior, hormones, and neural circuits to learn more about how the brain puts the internal and the external together during social interactions.
During my PhD, I studied how limited resources and hormones affect the brain and behavior in European starlings and Common loons. In my postdoc, I’m studying how social auditory information in the brain of Zebra finches reaches hormone-sensitive brain regions that control social behavior.