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Tara LeGates

Assistant Professor

Biological Sciences

Interdisciplinary Life Sciences Building (ILSB) 315


Postdoc University of Maryland School of Medicine 2019

Ph D Johns Hopkins University 2013

BS Rider University 2007


I received my B.S. in Behavioral Neuroscience from Rider University. I earned my Ph.D. in Biology at Johns Hopkins University in the laboratory of Samer Hattar and conducted my postdoctoral work at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in the laboratory of Scott Thompson.

Research Interests

The brain continuously processes a diverse array of information, and plasticity of and interactions between specific neuronal circuits are critical regulators of physiology and behavior. This allows organisms to respond to stimuli or changes in the environment and is essential for regulating physiology and behavior. Our goal is to understand how plasticity within neuronal circuits modulates complex behaviors. To tackle this broad goal, we focus on reward related behaviors given their evolutionary importance for survival and the prevalence of symptoms associated with reward in psychiatric disorders. We aim to understand how plasticity of and interactions between specific neuronal circuits integrate information to properly regulate reward related behaviors and how alterations may contribute to psychiatric disorders. Our research program employs a multilevel strategy, from synapses to behavior, combining electrophysiology, imaging, and behavior in mice to understand the neuronal circuit mechanisms responsible for integrating information to regulate behavior.

Teaching Interests

My teaching interests include neuroscience ranging from the function of synapses to the regulation of behavior. I am also interested in helping trainees build skills that will be critical for their success as future scientists including communication, experimental design, and hypothesis testing.

Intellectual Contributions

LeGates, Tara, Kvarta, M D., Thompson, S M. (2019). Sex differences in antidepressant efficacy.. 1. 44 140-154 Neuropsychopharmacology : official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology.

LeGates, Tara, Kvarta, M D., Tooley, J R., Francis, T C., Lobo, M K., Creed, M C., Thompson, S M. (2018). Reward behaviour is regulated by the strength of hippocampus-nucleus accumbens synapses.. 7735. 564 258-262 Nature.

Divakaruni, S S., Van Dyke, A M., Chandra, R, LeGates, Tara, Contreras, M, Dharmasri, P A., Higgs, H N., Lobo, M K., Thompson, S M., Blanpied, T A. (2018). Long-Term Potentiation Requires a Rapid Burst of Dendritic Mitochondrial Fission during Induction.. 4. 100 860-875.e7 Neuron.

Chen, C M., Orefice, L L., Chiu, S L., LeGates, Tara, Hattar, S, Huganir, R L., Zhao, H, Xu, B, Kuruvilla, R. (2017). Wnt5a is essential for hippocampal dendritic maintenance and spatial learning and memory in adult mice.. 4. 114 E619-E628 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

Bedont, J L., LeGates, Tara, Buhr, E, Bathini, A, Ling, J P., Bell, B, Wu, M N., Wong, P C., Van Gelder, R N., Mongrain, V, Hattar, S, Blackshaw, S. (2017). An LHX1-Regulated Transcriptional Network Controls Sleep/Wake Coupling and Thermal Resistance of the Central Circadian Clockworks.. 1. 27 128-136 Current biology : CB.

Le, N T., Chang, L, Kovlyagina, I, Georgiou, P, Safren, N, Braunstein, K E., Kvarta, M D., Van Dyke, A M., LeGates, Tara, Philips, T, Morrison, B M., Thompson, S M., Puche, A C., Gould, T D., Rothstein, J D., Wong, P C., Monteiro, M J. (2016). Motor neuron disease, TDP-43 pathology, and memory deficits in mice expressing ALS-FTD-linked UBQLN2 mutations.. 47. 113 E7580-E7589 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

Jaaro-Peled, H, Altimus, C, LeGates, Tara, Cash-Padgett, T, Zoubovsky, S, Hikida, T, Ishizuka, K, Hattar, S, Mongrain, V, Sawa, A. (2016). Abnormal wake/sleep pattern in a novel gain-of-function model of DISC1.. 112 63-69 Neuroscience research.

Fischell, J, Van Dyke, A M., Kvarta, M D., LeGates, Tara, Thompson, S M. (2015). Rapid Antidepressant Action and Restoration of Excitatory Synaptic Strength After Chronic Stress by Negative Modulators of Alpha5-Containing GABAA Receptors.. 11. 40 2499-509 Neuropsychopharmacology : official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology.

Thompson, S M., Kallarackal, A J., Kvarta, M D., Van Dyke, A M., LeGates, Tara, Cai, X. (2015). An excitatory synapse hypothesis of depression.. 5. 38 279-94 Trends in neurosciences.

LeGates, Tara, Fernandez, D C., Hattar, S. (2014). Light as a central modulator of circadian rhythms, sleep and affect.. 7. 15 443-54 Nature reviews. Neuroscience.

Bedont, J L., LeGates, Tara, Slat, E A., Byerly, M S., Wang, H, Hu, J, Rupp, A C., Qian, J, Wong, G W., Herzog, E D., Hattar, S, Blackshaw, S. (2014). Lhx1 controls terminal differentiation and circadian function of the suprachiasmatic nucleus.. 3. 7 609-22 Cell reports.

LeGates, Tara, Altimus, C M., Wang, H, Lee, H K., Yang, S, Zhao, H, Kirkwood, A, Weber, E T., Hattar, S. (2012). Aberrant light directly impairs mood and learning through melanopsin-expressing neurons.. 7425. 491 594-8 Nature.

LeGates, Tara, Altimus, C M. (2011). Measuring circadian and acute light responses in mice using wheel running activity.. 48. Journal of visualized experiments : JoVE.

Ecker, J L., Dumitrescu, O N., Wong, K Y., Alam, N M., Chen, S K., LeGates, Tara, Renna, J M., Prusky, G T., Berson, D M., Hattar, S. (2010). Melanopsin-expressing retinal ganglion-cell photoreceptors: cellular diversity and role in pattern vision.. 1. 67 49-60 Neuron.

LeGates, Tara, Dunn, D, Weber, E T. (2009). Accelerated re-entrainment to advanced light cycles in BALB/cJ mice.. 4. 98 427-32 Physiology & behavior.

Altimus, Cara M., LeGates, Tara A., Hattar, Samer. (2009). Circadian and light effects on mood regulation. Mood and Anxiety Related Phenotypes in Mice 47-66 New York, NY: Humana Press.

Altimus, C M., Güler, A D., Villa, K L., McNeill, D S., LeGates, Tara, Hattar, S. (2008). Rods-cones and melanopsin detect light and dark to modulate sleep independent of image formation.. 50. 105 19998-20003 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.