Jenna Ann McHenry

Jenna Ann McHenry

Assistant Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience

External Address: 
GSRB II Rm 3022, Box 91050, Durham, NC 27708
Internal Office Address: 
GSRB II Rm 3022, Box 91050, Durham, NC 27708


The McHenry Lab is currently accepting applications for several positions in the lab, including graduate students and postdocs.  Please e-mail for inquiries.

The goal of the research is my lab is to define the fixed and flexible features of molecularly defined neural circuits that direct ethological forms of social and nonsocial motivated behavior. We focus on hypothalamic subnuclei within key social and homeostatic control centers, and their connections with midbrain dopaminergic reward systems. We employ a broad range of modern neuroscience techniques, including optogenetics, in vivo deep-brain calcium imaging using 2-photon microscopy and miniaturized epifluorescent microscopes, confocal and light-sheet microscopy, viral/genetic targeting, whole-organ tissue clearing, and advanced quantitative analysis of complex neural and social behavior datasets. We specialize in deep-brain in vivomicroscopy, to record from multiple units of analysis (cells, circuits, ethological behaviors) and track networks over chronic time periods in awake behaving states. Together, our studies provide into novel insights into circuit processing that directs social and affective states that are often disrupted among Autism Spectrum Disorders, Reproductive Mood Disorders, Eating Disorders, and Major Depression.

Education & Training

  • Ph.D., Florida State University 2013

  • B.S., Florida State University 2007

Selected Grants

Establishing neural circuits for social homeostatis awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2022 to 2027

Neurobiology Training Program awarded by National Institutes of Health (Mentor). 2019 to 2024

Dissecting midbrain and preoptic circuits that regulate social and nonsocial emotional states awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2018 to 2022

Zeiss Lightsheet Upgrade to Expand Imaging Capabilities awarded by National Institutes of Health (Minor User). 2021 to 2022

Rodriguez-Romaguera, Jose, et al. “Prepronociceptin-Expressing Neurons in the Extended Amygdala Encode and Promote Rapid Arousal Responses to Motivationally Salient Stimuli.Cell Reports, vol. 33, no. 6, Nov. 2020, p. 108362. Epmc, doi:10.1016/j.celrep.2020.108362. Full Text

Torruella-Suárez, María Luisa, et al. “Manipulations of Central Amygdala Neurotensin Neurons Alter the Consumption of Ethanol and Sweet Fluids in Mice.The Journal of Neuroscience : The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience, vol. 40, no. 3, Jan. 2020, pp. 632–47. Epmc, doi:10.1523/jneurosci.1466-19.2019. Full Text

Rossi, Mark A., et al. “Obesity remodels activity and transcriptional state of a lateral hypothalamic brake on feeding.Science (New York, N.Y.), vol. 364, no. 6447, June 2019, pp. 1271–74. Epmc, doi:10.1126/science.aax1184. Full Text

Robison, Christopher L., et al. “Increased expression of carbon monoxide-producing enzymes in the MPOA after sexual experience in male rats.Physiology & Behavior, vol. 171, Mar. 2017, pp. 149–57. Epmc, doi:10.1016/j.physbeh.2017.01.016. Full Text

McHenry, Jenna A., et al. “Hormonal gain control of a medial preoptic area social reward circuit.Nature Neuroscience, vol. 20, no. 3, Mar. 2017, pp. 449–58. Epmc, doi:10.1038/nn.4487. Full Text

Otis, James M., et al. “Prefrontal cortex output circuits guide reward seeking through divergent cue encoding.Nature, vol. 543, no. 7643, Mar. 2017, pp. 103–07. Epmc, doi:10.1038/nature21376. Full Text

Decot, Heather K., et al. “Coordination of Brain-Wide Activity Dynamics by Dopaminergic Neurons.Neuropsychopharmacology : Official Publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, vol. 42, no. 3, Feb. 2017, pp. 615–27. Epmc, doi:10.1038/npp.2016.151. Full Text

McHenry, Jenna A., et al. “The role of ΔfosB in the medial preoptic area: Differential effects of mating and cocaine history.Behavioral Neuroscience, vol. 130, no. 5, Oct. 2016, pp. 469–78. Epmc, doi:10.1037/bne0000160. Full Text

Resendez, Shanna L., et al. “Visualization of cortical, subcortical and deep brain neural circuit dynamics during naturalistic mammalian behavior with head-mounted microscopes and chronically implanted lenses.Nature Protocols, vol. 11, no. 3, Mar. 2016, pp. 566–97. Epmc, doi:10.1038/nprot.2016.021. Full Text

Cone, Jackson J., et al. “Physiological state gates acquisition and expression of mesolimbic reward prediction signals.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol. 113, no. 7, Feb. 2016, pp. 1943–48. Epmc, doi:10.1073/pnas.1519643113. Full Text