WASHINGTON, DC — The Society for Neuroscience (SfN) will present the Young Investigator Award to Kay Tye, PhD, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Established in 1983, the $15,000 award recognizes the outstanding achievements and contributions of a young neuroscientist who has recently received an advanced professional degree. The award will be presented during Neuroscience 2016, SfN’s annual meeting and the world’s largest source of emerging news about brain science and health.

“Dr. Tye’s work has already led to new and fundamental understanding of how neural circuitry that interprets pleasure and pain can feed into affective disorders and addiction,” SfN President Hollis Cline said. “Dr. Tye is poised to lead her field for years to come.”

In her lab at MIT, Tye identified neural connections that play a critical role in anxiety and precisely altered behaviors related to anxiety and social interactions. By altering the activity of specific small bundles of connections using the relatively new technique of optogenetics, Tye altered anxiety levels in mice so that they fearlessly explored open areas or ran for cover.

As an Assistant Professor at MIT's Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, Tye has expanded this line of research to exploring the neural circuit mechanisms underlying positive and negative emotional valence - and how this gives rise to motivated behaviors. She is particularly interested in how neural pathways encode environmental cues as good or bad, and how these connections influence behaviors associated with anxiety, depression, and addiction.

Tye received SfN’s Donald B. Lindsley Prize in Behavioral Neuroscience in 2009.

The Society for Neuroscience (SfN) is an organization of nearly 38,000 basic scientists and clinicians who study the brain and nervous system.