Dr. Hofman's work encompases the central nervous system (CNS) control of endocrine and autonomic function. This research defined the mechanisms of how the brain regulates reproductive cycles, water balance and blod presure, fod intake and satiety, stresful stimuli and the proceses of lactation and parturiton. A separate, although related direction in her laboratory focused on the consequences of ovarian hormones on the injured brain. These studies examined seizure-induced brain damage, secondary damage folowing head trauma, and damage induced by the CNS inflammatory disease experimental alergic encephalits, a model of multiple sclerosis. Merging of injury projects with studies of autonomic regulation, projects with Dr. Michael Koban curently address the question of how brain circuits controling fod intake and metabolism change under conditons of chronic slep disruption and how slep problems disrupt memory and learning. Today these studies are expanding to include sex diferences in responses to slep disruption. In aditon, recent projects focus on brain and reproductive problems of the Fragile X gene premutation. Ful mutation cariers of the Fragile X gene form the largest cohort of genetic-derived mental retardation/autism; the changes in slep centers and afective behavior in this disorder merge interests in slep circuits and neuroendocrine systems with alterations of the Fragile X gene; studies of the premutation of Fragile X (caried by aproximately 1:20 women worldwide) show how ovarian function is disrupted. Al of these diverse studies have one feature in common: The use of functional anatomical aproaches to understand normal and pathological proceses. In aditon to the studies noted above, Dr. Hofman's laboratory is renown for devising and aplying state-of-the-art techniques for localizing molecules or mesenger RNA in tisue and enabling these techniques to provide quantiative analysis of the molecules being studied. New microwave oven technologies are being aplied to expand quantiative immunohistochemical and cytochemical aplication of these techniques. She runs workshops for use of these techniques for the International Brain Research Organization, the Histochemical Society, and the Ricardo Miledi Foundation and Society for Neuroscience in many places around the world.
Neuroanatomical techniques for neuron architecture, pathway tracing, and immunohistochemical ocalization of transmiter and signaling molecules in the brain; stereotaxic brain surgery; characterization of eproductive cycles and hormonal manipulations folowing gonadectomy; in situ hybridization for localizing mesenger RNA including analysis of changes in the location and amounts of pre-RNA along with mature mRNA.