Areas of Expertise
Neuroscience; Behavioral Neuroendocrinology; how hormones alter the developing brain; sex differences in brain, behavior and disease.
PhD, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Professional Publications & Contributions
Professor Zup studies the role of hormones in shaping the developing brain. As a mammalian embryo develops, it must become either male or female – a process controlled primarily by hormones. These hormones permanently alter brain structures and synapses, as well as future behavior, into male-like or female-like patterns, although the precise mechanism used to achieve these differences is poorly understood. For example, one of the clearest examples of sex differences in brain and behavior is the fact that the incidence of almost every major mental health disorder is skewed toward one sex. Autism and other developmental diseases are all seen more frequently in males, suggesting that the male brain is somehow more vulnerable to developmental perturbations. Professor Zup is interested in understanding the basic mechanisms of establishing a male vs. female brain as well specifically gaining insight into the particular susceptibility of the developing male brain to diseases such as autism.