How one responds to stress varies widely based on the situation and the individual and the responses employed may inform one's susceptibility to stress-induced psychiatric conditions. I am interested in how top-down modulation of stress responses via the prefrontal cortex may play a role in adjusting stress processes depending on context and past experience. Specifically, I am investigating the role of prefrontal projections to the midbrain in the modulation of autonomic, behavioral, and neuroendocrine aspects of the stress response. To do this, I utilize optogenetic techniques to manipulate activity of these brain circuits during a stressful event and observe how activity in these pathways modulate stress response phenotypes. Additionally, I employ viral circuit tracing as well as histochemical techniques to elucidate the functional neuroanatomy of these circuits.