Dan Wesson

Dan Wesson, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Department: MD-PHARMACOLOGY / THERAPEUTICS
Business Phone: (352) 294-8767
Business Email: danielwesson@ufl.edu

Accomplishments

Secretary
2020 · Assocation for Chemoreception Sciences
Standing Member of Neurobiology of Learning, Memory, and Decision Neuroscience study section
2019 · National Institutes of Health
Young Investigator Award for Research in Olfaction
2019 · Association for Chemoreception Sciences

Research Profile

The Wesson Lab explores the neural processing of sensory information in the context of behavior. This line of questioning provides an ideal platform to test specific hypotheses regarding the neural basis of sensory dysfunction in neurological disorders, including dementias and addiction, wherein sensory processing is aberrant. To accomplish these major goals, they utilize a variety of methods, ranging from multi-site electrophysiological recordings or optical imaging from defined brain structures in behaving animals to cutting-edge operant behavioral assays, some of which they perform in viral/genetic animal models with precise neural perturbations. The goals for their research include:

1) Define brain systems for sensory information processing and motivated behaviors:

The ventral striatum (VS) is an integrative network of brain structures, which: 1) processes sensory information, and 2) is necessary for both motivated behaviors and the rewarding effects of psychostimulants. The olfactory tubercle (OT) subregion of the VS resides in a likely advantageous position for guiding motivated behaviors, since it both receives monosynaptic input from the olfactory bulb and also has direct interconnectedness with other VS regions and the basal ganglia. The role of the OT in sensory-driven motivated behaviors is not defined.

A major line of research in the Wesson Lab, therefore, is to identify manners whereby the OT encodes odor sensory information and to learn how this information consequently gets distributed throughout interconnected brain structures. They are also interested in defining sources of information into the OT. Work from their group is the first to demonstrate how neurons in the OT encode odor information in behaving subjects and how these processing strategies are shaped by the learned meaning of the odors (viz., valence). They are now working to identify complementary cellular mechanisms of odor valence and understand how this information is distributed among interconnected neural ensembles.

A related major line of research in the Wesson Lab is regarding the OT’s role in motivated behaviors. Despite elegant work showing that the OT is needed for both reward behavior and psychostimulant effects on behavior, the OT is not even incorporated into many prevalent models of the brain’s reward system. This omission may in part be explained by a lack of the specific cellular mechanisms whereby the OT impacts reward-guided behavior. Work from their group is the first to demonstrate how neurons in the OT encode goal-directed actions and natural reinforcers and how these are dictated by the motivational state of the animal. Ongoing work in this lab is now resolving important features whereby the OT subserves motivated behaviors. This work is highly relevant to understanding brain mechanisms of addictive behaviors.

2) Determine why, and how, the olfactory system is vulnerable to early onset dementias, including Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease:

A question of wide importance to the understanding of AD and PD is how these diseases progress. At a circuit level, this problem can be thought of specifically by the following question: How can subtle and sometimes undetectable levels of local pathogens result in severe, wide-spread nervous system dysfunction? The lab addresses this question in the mammalian olfactory system, which yields ideal tractability for physiological recordings as well as a nearly linear, yet also distributed, information processing stream. This is a clinically-relevant model, especially given the early presence of some AD and PD neuropathology (during early Braak & Braak stages) in the olfactory bulbs of persons afflicted with the disease. The lab’s work seeks to allow the direct assessment of the cellular-level contributions of peripheral nervous dysfunction (‘upstream’) on central (‘downstream’) processing of behaviorally/perceptually-relevant information in the context of AD and PD and will therefore yield novel data on circuit progression of these diseases.

3) Define mechanisms whereby the olfactory system is shaped by cognitive state:

Cognition shapes sensory processing. Work by numerous groups has shown that olfactory perception and odor processing are both influenced by cognitive factors. The influence of attention, specifically, on the cellular processing of odors is entirely unknown. This is a very intriguing question, since olfactory cortical structures receive direct olfactory input in the absence of a thalamic relay—the proposed origin of attentionally-mediated effects in other sensory systems. Therefore, ongoing work in the Wesson Lab has invested into developing a sophistical behavioral tool to allow for manipulating selective attention to odors and testing important questions regarding the mechanisms, whereby attention shapes the representation of odor information in the brain. This work is relevant for understanding how information travels within the brain in the context of moment-to-moment changes in cognitive state, which can be impacted in many neurological disorders.

Open Researcher and Contributor ID (ORCID)

0000-0002-3192-3866

Areas of Interest
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Drug addiction
  • Neural circuits
  • Neurophysiology
  • Nicotine Addiction
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Sensory neuroscience
  • neuroscience
  • olfaction
  • smell
  • synucleinopathy

Publications

2021
Heterozygous GBA D409V and ATP13a2 mutations do not exacerbate pathological α-synuclein spread in the prodromal preformed fibrils model in young mice.
Neurobiology of disease. 159 [DOI] 10.1016/j.nbd.2021.105513. [PMID] 34536552.
2021
Neural processing of the reward value of pleasant odorants.
Current biology : CB. 31(8):1592-1605.e9 [DOI] 10.1016/j.cub.2021.01.066. [PMID] 33607032.
2021
The tubular striatum and nucleus accumbens distinctly represent reward-taking and reward-seeking.
Journal of neurophysiology. 125(1):166-183 [DOI] 10.1152/jn.00495.2020. [PMID] 33174477.
2020
A Neural System that Represents the Association of Odors with Rewarded Outcomes and Promotes Behavioral Engagement.
Cell reports. 32(3) [DOI] 10.1016/j.celrep.2020.107919. [PMID] 32697986.
2020
Alterations in odor hedonics in the 5XFAD Alzheimer’s disease mouse model and the influence of sex.
Behavioral neuroscience. 134(5):407-416 [DOI] 10.1037/bne0000400. [PMID] 32757584.
2020
Deficits in olfactory sensitivity in a mouse model of Parkinson’s disease revealed by plethysmography of odor-evoked sniffing.
Scientific reports. 10(1) [DOI] 10.1038/s41598-020-66201-8. [PMID] 32514004.
2020
Neurochemical organization of the ventral striatum’s olfactory tubercle.
Journal of neurochemistry. 152(4):425-448 [DOI] 10.1111/jnc.14919. [PMID] 31755104.
2020
Perturbation of in vivo Neural Activity Following α-Synuclein Seeding in the Olfactory Bulb.
Journal of Parkinson's disease. 10(4):1411-1427 [DOI] 10.3233/JPD-202241. [PMID] 32925105.
2020
The Tubular Striatum
The Journal of Neuroscience. 40(39):7379-7386 [DOI] 10.1523/jneurosci.1109-20.2020.
2020
The Tubular Striatum.
The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience. 40(39):7379-7386 [DOI] 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1109-20.2020. [PMID] 32968026.
2019
Centrifugal Innervation of the Olfactory Bulb: A Reappraisal
eneuro. 6(1):ENEURO.0390-18.2019 [DOI] 10.1523/eneuro.0390-18.2019.
2019
Centrifugal Innervation of the Olfactory Bulb: A Reappraisal.
eNeuro. 6(1) [DOI] 10.1523/ENEURO.0390-18.2019. [PMID] 30740517.
2019
Glutamatergic Neurons in the Piriform Cortex Influence the Activity of D1- and D2-Type Receptor-Expressing Olfactory Tubercle Neurons
The Journal of Neuroscience. 39(48):9546-9559 [DOI] 10.1523/jneurosci.1444-19.2019.
2019
Glutamatergic Neurons in the Piriform Cortex Influence the Activity of D1- and D2-Type Receptor-Expressing Olfactory Tubercle Neurons.
The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience. 39(48):9546-9559 [DOI] 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1444-19.2019. [PMID] 31628176.
2018
Inter- and intra-mouse variability in odor preferences revealed in an olfactory multiple-choice test.
Behavioral neuroscience. 132(2):88-98 [DOI] 10.1037/bne0000233. [PMID] 29494168.
2018
Selective Attention Controls Olfactory Decisions and the Neural Encoding of Odors.
Current biology : CB. 28(14):2195-2205.e4 [DOI] 10.1016/j.cub.2018.05.011. [PMID] 30056854.
2016
Adaptation and Plasticity of Breathing during Behavioral and Cognitive Tasks.
Neural plasticity. 2016 [PMID] 27777800.
View on: PubMed
2016
Alterations of the volatile metabolome in mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease.
Scientific reports. 6 [DOI] 10.1038/srep19495. [PMID] 26762470.
2016
Illustrated Review of the Ventral Striatum’s Olfactory Tubercle.
Chemical senses. 41(7):549-55 [DOI] 10.1093/chemse/bjw069. [PMID] 27340137.
2016
Preservation of Essential Odor-Guided Behaviors and Odor-Based Reversal Learning after Targeting Adult Brain Serotonin Synthesis.
eNeuro. 3(5) [PMID] 27896310.
View on: PubMed
2016
The Neural Representation of Goal-Directed Actions and Outcomes in the Ventral Striatum’s Olfactory Tubercle
The Journal of Neuroscience. 36(2):548-560 [DOI] 10.1523/jneurosci.3328-15.2016.
2016
The Neural Representation of Goal-Directed Actions and Outcomes in the Ventral Striatum’s Olfactory Tubercle.
The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience. 36(2):548-60 [DOI] 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3328-15.2016. [PMID] 26758844.
2015
Coding of odor stimulus features among secondary olfactory structures.
Journal of neurophysiology. 114(1):736-45 [DOI] 10.1152/jn.00902.2014. [PMID] 26041832.
2015
Laminar and spatial localization of the islands of Calleja in mice.
Neuroscience. 287:137-43 [DOI] 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2014.12.019. [PMID] 25536047.
2015
The olfactory tubercle encodes odor valence in behaving mice.
The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience. 35(11):4515-27 [DOI] 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4750-14.2015. [PMID] 25788670.
2014
A breath of new life into human social cognition.
Chemical senses. 39(4):273-5 [DOI] 10.1093/chemse/bju012. [PMID] 24658659.
2014
Odor- and state-dependent olfactory tubercle local field potential dynamics in awake rats.
Journal of neurophysiology. 111(10):2109-23 [DOI] 10.1152/jn.00829.2013. [PMID] 24598519.
2014
Olfactory tubercle stimulation alters odor preference behavior and recruits forebrain reward and motivational centers.
Frontiers in behavioral neuroscience. 8 [DOI] 10.3389/fnbeh.2014.00081. [PMID] 24672445.
2013
Age-dependent alterations in the number, volume, and localization of islands of Calleja within the olfactory tubercle.
Neurobiology of aging. 34(11):2676-82 [DOI] 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2013.05.014. [PMID] 23796661.
2013
Chronic anti-murine Aβ immunization preserves odor guided behaviors in an Alzheimer’s β-amyloidosis model.
Behavioural brain research. 237:96-102 [DOI] 10.1016/j.bbr.2012.09.019. [PMID] 23000537.
2013
Distributed auditory sensory input within the mouse olfactory cortex.
The European journal of neuroscience. 37(4):564-71 [DOI] 10.1111/ejn.12063. [PMID] 23189957.
2013
Encoding and representation of intranasal CO2 in the mouse olfactory cortex.
The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience. 33(34):13873-81 [DOI] 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0422-13.2013. [PMID] 23966706.
2013
Immunization targeting a minor plaque constituent clears β-amyloid and rescues behavioral deficits in an Alzheimer’s disease mouse model.
Neurobiology of aging. 34(1):137-45 [DOI] 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2012.04.007. [PMID] 22608241.
2013
Optical dissection of odor information processing in vivo using GCaMPs expressed in specified cell types of the olfactory bulb.
The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience. 33(12):5285-300 [DOI] 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4824-12.2013. [PMID] 23516293.
2013
Response to Assini et al.
Current biology : CB. 23(22):R997-R998 [DOI] 10.1016/j.cub.2013.10.008. [PMID] 24262835.
2013
Response to comments on “ApoE-directed therapeutics rapidly clear β-amyloid and reverse deficits in AD mouse models”.
Science (New York, N.Y.). 340(6135):924-g [DOI] 10.1126/science.1234114. [PMID] 23704556.
2013
Sniffing behavior communicates social hierarchy.
Current biology : CB. 23(7):575-80 [DOI] 10.1016/j.cub.2013.02.012. [PMID] 23477727.
2012
ApoE-directed therapeutics rapidly clear β-amyloid and reverse deficits in AD mouse models.
Science (New York, N.Y.). 335(6075):1503-6 [DOI] 10.1126/science.1217697. [PMID] 22323736.
2012
Parallel odor processing by two anatomically distinct olfactory bulb target structures.
PloS one. 7(4) [DOI] 10.1371/journal.pone.0034926. [PMID] 22496877.
2011
Age and gene overexpression interact to abolish nesting behavior in Tg2576 amyloid precursor protein (APP) mice.
Behavioural brain research. 216(1):408-13 [DOI] 10.1016/j.bbr.2010.08.033. [PMID] 20804789.
2011
Amygdaloid-striatal substrates underlying odor hedonics and odor-guided behaviors.
Frontiers in neuroanatomy. 5 [DOI] 10.3389/fnana.2011.00061. [PMID] 21980312.
2011
Respiratory and sniffing behaviors throughout adulthood and aging in mice.
Behavioural brain research. 223(1):99-106 [DOI] 10.1016/j.bbr.2011.04.016. [PMID] 21524667.
2011
Reversal of autophagy dysfunction in the TgCRND8 mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease ameliorates amyloid pathologies and memory deficits.
Brain : a journal of neurology. 134(Pt 1):258-77 [DOI] 10.1093/brain/awq341. [PMID] 21186265.
2011
Sensory network dysfunction, behavioral impairments, and their reversibility in an Alzheimer’s β-amyloidosis mouse model.
The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience. 31(44):15962-71 [DOI] 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2085-11.2011. [PMID] 22049439.
2011
Sniffing out the contributions of the olfactory tubercle to the sense of smell: hedonics, sensory integration, and more?
Neuroscience and biobehavioral reviews. 35(3):655-68 [DOI] 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2010.08.004. [PMID] 20800615.
2011
Therapeutic effects of remediating autophagy failure in a mouse model of Alzheimer disease by enhancing lysosomal proteolysis.
Autophagy. 7(7):788-9 [PMID] 21464620.
View on: PubMed
2010
Olfactory dysfunction correlates with amyloid-beta burden in an Alzheimer’s disease mouse model.
The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience. 30(2):505-14 [DOI] 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4622-09.2010. [PMID] 20071513.
2010
Smelling sounds: olfactory-auditory sensory convergence in the olfactory tubercle.
The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience. 30(8):3013-21 [DOI] 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.6003-09.2010. [PMID] 20181598.
2009
Low-level mechanisms for processing odor information in the behaving animal.
Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 1170:286-92 [DOI] 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2009.04015.x. [PMID] 19686149.
2009
Temporal structure of receptor neuron input to the olfactory bulb imaged in behaving rats.
Journal of neurophysiology. 101(2):1073-88 [DOI] 10.1152/jn.90902.2008. [PMID] 19091924.
2009
Why sniff fast? The relationship between sniff frequency, odor discrimination, and receptor neuron activation in the rat.
Journal of neurophysiology. 101(2):1089-102 [DOI] 10.1152/jn.90981.2008. [PMID] 19052108.
2008
Rapid encoding and perception of novel odors in the rat.
PLoS biology. 6(4) [DOI] 10.1371/journal.pbio.0060082. [PMID] 18399719.
2008
Sexually dimorphic enhancement by estradiol of male urinary odor detection thresholds in mice.
Behavioral neuroscience. 122(4):788-93 [DOI] 10.1037/0735-7044.122.4.788. [PMID] 18729632.
2008
Sniffing behavior of mice during performance in odor-guided tasks.
Chemical senses. 33(7):581-96 [DOI] 10.1093/chemse/bjn029. [PMID] 18534995.
2007
Sniffing controls an adaptive filter of sensory input to the olfactory bulb.
Nature neuroscience. 10(5):631-9 [PMID] 17450136.
View on: PubMed
2006
Enhanced urinary odor discrimination in female aromatase knockout (ArKO) mice.
Hormones and behavior. 49(5):580-6 [PMID] 16448653.
View on: PubMed
2006
Stacking anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS) during puberty in rats: a neuroendocrine and behavioral assessment.
Pharmacology, biochemistry, and behavior. 83(3):410-9 [PMID] 16603236.
View on: PubMed
Alterations in odor hedonics in the 5XFAD Alzheimer’s disease mouse model and the influence of sex
. [DOI] 10.1101/2020.05.08.085043.

Grants

Aug 2021 ACTIVE
Novel Role of a Ventral Striatal Circuit in Motor Control
Role: Principal Investigator
Funding: UNIV OF PENNSYLVANIA via NATL INST OF HLTH NINDS
May 2021 ACTIVE
Cognitive and Affective Network Dysfunction and Neuromodulation in Aging and Synucleinopathy
Role: Other
Funding: NATL INST OF HLTH NIA
May 2021 ACTIVE
The Norepinephrine transporter as a therapeutic target for treatment of alpha-synuclein pathology in PD
Role: Co-Investigator
Funding: NATL INST OF HLTH NINDS
Jan 2021 ACTIVE
Mechanisms of Cognitive Decline in Dementia with Lewy Body
Role: Principal Investigator
Funding: UF FOU
Apr 2020 ACTIVE
Circuitry and function of ventral striatum subregions
Role: Principal Investigator
Funding: NATL INST OF HLTH NIDA
Feb 2020 ACTIVE
Learned olfactory preferences and estradiol
Role: Other
Funding: NATL INST OF HLTH NIDCD
Sep 2019 ACTIVE
Striatal mechanisms for e-cigarette reinforcement by flavorants
Role: Principal Investigator
Funding: UNIV OF PENNSYLVANIA via NATL INST OF HLTH NIDA
Jul 2019 ACTIVE
Odor-directed attention and the medial prefrontal cortex
Role: Other
Funding: NATL INST OF HLTH NIDCD
Apr 2018 – Nov 2019
Services Agreement between SC Johnson and Sons and the University of Florida Board of Trustees
Role: Principal Investigator
Funding: JOHNSON & SON, S C
Jul 2017 ACTIVE
Linking Synucleinopathy and Dysfunction of Olfactory Pathways
Role: Principal Investigator
Funding: VAN ANDEL INSTITUTE via NATL INST OF HLTH NIDCD
Jul 2017 – Jun 2021
DC014443 INTER-REGIONAL CODING OF ODOR VALENCE BY NEURAL ENSEMBLES
Role: Principal Investigator
Funding: NATL INST OF HLTH NIDCD
Jul 2017 – May 2018
Functional role of an olfactory corticostriatal pathway
Role: Other
Funding: NATL INST OF HLTH NIDCD

Education

PhD
2009 · Boston University

Teaching Profile

Courses Taught
2020-2021
PAS5026 Pharmacotherapeu 2
2018-2021
GMS6560 Molecules to Man: Past, Present and Future Therapeutic Strategies for Disease
2019-2021
GMS6520 Medical Pharmacology and Therapeutics I: The Nervous System
2018-2021
DEN6262 Prin of Pharmacology
2020-2021
MDU4002 Introduction to Medical Science Seminar 2
2018-2019,2021
GMS6070 Sensory and Motor Systems
2018
GMS7979 Advanced Research
2018
GMS7980 Research for Doctoral Dissertation
2018
IDH2930 (Un)common read
2017
GMS7794 Neuroscience Seminar
2017
GMS7795 Special Topics in Neuroscience

Contact Details

Phones:
Business:
(352) 294-8767
Emails: