Anita K. McCauley
Adjunct Assistant Professor of Biology
Director of Microscopy Facility

BS Elon College (1997)
Ph.D. Wake Forest University (2002)

016 Winston Hall
(336) 758-3909

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Areas of Interest

Sensory Systems Neuroscience; Visual System Development; Anatomy and Function of the Thalamus; Nitric Oxide-Mediated Neurotransmission


The thalamus is a sub-cortical brain structure that is essential for both sensory information processing and the modulation of sleep and waking states. The complex neural circuitry of the thalamus allows this structure to transform and gate sensory information that is relayed from the periphery to the cerebral cortex. My research has focused on the development of the thalamic circuitry associated with the visual pathway, and in particular, the contributions of the neurotransmitter nitric oxide to the development and function of this circuitry. In collaboration with Dr. Dwayne Godwin of Wake Forest University School of Medicine, we have determined the cellular pattern of expression of nitric oxide synthase (the synthesizing enzyme for nitric oxide) during development and in the adult visual thalamus. My current research efforts utilize many complementary anatomical techniques to determine the synaptic contacts onto nitric oxide synthase containing cells, to characterize the nitric oxide synthase containing brainstem input to the visual sectors of the thalamus, and to understand the mechanisms responsible for stimulating nitric oxide release. This research will provide important basic science and clinical information related to the development and plasticity of the visual pathway, mechanisms of information processing, and factors that may be associated with neurological disorders such as epilepsy and Parkinson's disease.

Selected Publications

McCauley Ak, Carden WB, Godwin DW. 2003. Brain nitric oxide synthase expression in the developing ferret geniculate nucleus: analysis of timecourse, localization, and synaptic contacts. J Comparative Neurology 462:342-354.

AK, Meyer GA, Godwin DW. 2002. Developmental regulation of brain nitric oxide synthase expression in the ferret thalamic reticular nucleus.  Neuroscience Letters 320:151-155.

Moore RJ, Vinsant S, McCauley, AK, Kurukulasuriya NC, Godwin DW.   2001.  Transneuronal retrograde transport of attenuated Pseudorabies viruses within central visual pathways.   Visual Neuroscience 18:633-640.


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