My primary research program is aimed at understanding the basal forebrain cholinergic system and its role in cognitive functions, particularly attention. Much of this work has been conducted in rodents, but we also use a wide range of techniques and approaches ranging from mouse molecular work on choline transporters to human behavioral genetics and neuroimaging. We have made significant progress toward understanding the regulation and functions of this neuronal system, in part as a result of the development of new electrochemical methods for monitoring real-time neurotransmitter release in task-performing animals and by combining these methods with optogenetic manipulations in task-performing animals. Current projects concern (1) the impact of genetically-imposed variations in the capacity of the neuronal choline transport on cognitive-cholinergic functions and the vulnerability to brain injury, (2) the role of cholinergic systems for complex movement control in Parkinson’s disease, and (3) cholinergic-attentional control of drug cues. Details about my research program can be found at https://sites.lsa.umich.edu/msarter/
Recent Representative Publications:
Parikh, V., Kozak, R., Martinez, V., & Sarter, M. (2007). Prefrontal acetylcholine controls cue detection on multiple time scales. Neuron, 56, 141-154.
Parikh, V., St. Peters, M., Blakely, R.D., & Sarter, M. (2013). The presynaptic choline transporter imposes limits on sustained cortical acetylcholine release and attention. Journal of Neuroscience, 33, 2326-2337.
Paolone, G., Angelakos, C.C., Meyer, P., Robinson, T.E., & Sarter, M. (2013). Cholinergic control over attention in rats prone to attribute incentive salience to reward cues. Journal of Neuroscience, 33, 8321-8335.
Howe, M.W., Berry, A.S., Francois, J., Gilmour, G., Carp, J.M., Tricklebank, M., Lustig, C., & Sarter, M. (2013). Prefrontal cholinergic mechanisms instigating shifts from monitoring for cues to cue-guided performance: Converging electrochemical and fMRI evidence from rats and humans. Journal of Neuroscience, 33, 8742-8752.
Kucinski, A., Paolone, G., Bradshaw, M., Albin, R.L., & Sarter, M. (2013). Modeling fall propensity in Parkinson’s disease: Deficits in the attentional control of complex movements in rats with cortical-cholinergic and striatal-dopaminergic deafferentation. Journal of Neuroscience, 33, 16522-16539.
Sarter, M., Albin, R.L., Kucinski, A., & Lustig, C. (2014). Where attention falls: increased risk of falls from the converging impact of cortical cholinergic and midbrain dopamine loss on striatal function. Experimental Neurology, 257, 120-129.
Berry, A.S., Demeter, E., Sabhapathy, S., English, B., Blakely, R.D., Sarter, M., & Lustig, C. (2014). Disposed to distraction? Genetic variation in the cholinergic system influences distractibility but not time-on-task effects. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 25, 1981-1991.
Sarter, M., & Kim, Y. (2015). Interpreting chemical neurotransmission in vivo: techniques, time scales and theories. ACS Chemical Neuroscience, 6, 8-10.
Berry, A.S., Blakely, R.D., Sarter, M., & Lustig, C. (2015). Cholinergic capacity mediates prefrontal engagement during challenges to attention: evidence from imaging genetics. NeuroImage, 108, 386-395.