Skirmantas Janusonis

Skirmantas janusonis

Associate Professor

Research Area

Neuroscience and Behavior


Skirmantas Janusonis received his B.S. in Biology and Biophysics from Vilnius University in Lithuania. In 1994, he started his graduate studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he trained under the supervision of Dr. Katherine Fite. After earning a Ph.D. in Neuroscience and Behavior in 2001, he worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Neurobiology of the Yale University School of Medicine. He joined the UCSB faculty in 2006.


My laboratory investigates axon systems that show strong stochastic (random walk-like) behavior in the three-dimensional brain space, with a special focus on the ascending reticular activating system. As part of this program, we study the fine structure of the brain serotonergic matrix and its interactions with other cellular elements, such as microglia and blood platelets. We are motivated by problems of fundamental neuroscience, but our research also has strong biomedical relevance: for example, nearly all mental disorders have been associated with dysfunction in serotonin signaling, and the platelet hyperserotonemia of autism remains an enigma after half a century of research. We use a wide range of approaches that include molecular neurobiology, comparative neuroanatomy (from sharks to rodents to humans), complex-systems methods, and computer simulations. Our group collaborates with researchers in several engineering fields and in the mathematics of stochastic processes.

Selected Publications


Janusonis S., Mays K.C., Hingorani M.T. (2019) Serotonergic fibers as 3D-walks. ACS Chemical Neuroscience 10: 3064-3067.

Janusonis S., Detering N. (2019) A stochastic approach to serotonergic fibers in mental disorders. Biochimie 161: 15-22.

Janusonis S. (2018) Some galeomorph sharks express a mammalian microglia-specific protein in radial ependymoglia of the telencephalon. Brain, Behavior and Evolution 91: 17-30.

Janusonis S. (2017) A receptor-based analysis of local ecosystems in the human brain. BMC Neuroscience 18: 33.

Chen A., Hubbert K.D., Foroudi P.F., Lu V.F., Janusonis S. (2017) Serotonin 5-HT4 receptors modulate the development of glutamatergic input to the dorsal raphe nucleus. Neuroscience Letters 640: 111-116.

Janusonis S. (2017) Serotonin in space: Understanding single fibers. ACS Chemical Neuroscience 8: 893-896.

Janusonis S. (2014) Serotonin dynamics in and around the central nervous system: Is autism solvable without fundamental insights? International Journal of Developmental Neuroscience 39: 9-15.

Chen A., Kelley L.D.S., Janusonis S. (2012) Effects of prenatal stress and monoaminergic perturbations on the expression of serotonin 5-HT4 and adrenergic ß2 receptors in the embryonic mouse telencephalon. Brain Research 1459: 22-34.

Flood Z.C., Engel D.L.J., Simon C.C., Negherbon K.R., Murphy L.J., Tamavimok W., Anderson G.M., Janusonis S. (2012) Brain growth trajectories in mouse strains with central and peripheral serotonin differences: Relevance to autism models. Neuroscience 210: 286-295.

Janusonis S. (2012) Relationships among variables and their equilibrium values: caveats of time-less interpretation. Biological Reviews 87: 275-289.

Slaten E.R., Hernandez M.C., Albay R. III, Lavian R., Janusonis S. (2010) Transient expression of serotonin 5-HT4 receptors in the mouse developing thalamocortical projections. Developmental Neurobiology 70: 165-181.