Martin Sarter, Ph.D.

Michigan Neuroscience Institute Affiliate
Charles M. Butter Collegiate Professor of Psychology
Professor of Neuroscience

4030 East Hall
530 Church Street 
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1043


Areas of Interest

The Sarter Lab primary research seeks to understand the basal forebrain cholinergic system and its role in cognitive functions, particularly attention. Much of this work is conducted in rodents, but we also use many techniques and approaches ranging from mouse molecular work on choline transporters to human behavioral genetics and neuroimaging.  

We have made significant progress toward understanding the regulation and functions of this neuronal system, partly due to the development of new electrochemical methods for monitoring real-time neurotransmitter release in task-performing animals and by combining these methods with optogenetic manipulations in task-performing animals. Current projects concern:

  1. The impact of genetically-imposed variations in the capacity of the neuronal choline transport on cognitive-cholinergic functions and the vulnerability to brain injury
  2. The role of cholinergic systems for complex movement control in Parkinson’s disease
  3. Cholinergic-attentional control of drug cues  

Published Articles or Reviews

  • Donovan, E., Avila, C., Klausner, S., Parikh, V., Fenollar-Ferrer, C., Blakely, R.D. & Sarter, M. (2022). Disrupted choline clearance and sustained acetylcholine release in vivo by a common choline transporter coding variant associated with poor attentional control in humans. Journal of Neuroscience, in press.
  • Sarter, M., Avila, C., Kucinski, A., & Donovan, E. (2021). Make a left turn: Cortico-striatal circuitry mediating the attentional control of movements. Movement Disorders, 36, 535-546.
  • Avila, C., Kucinski, A., & Sarter, M. (2020). Complex movement control in a rat model of Parkinsonian falls: bidirectional control by striatal cholinergic interneurons. Journal of Neuroscience, 40, 6049-6067.
  • Sarter, M., Lustig, C. (2020). Forebrain cholinergic signaling: wired and phasic, not tonic, and causing behavior. Journal of Neuroscience, 40, 712-719.

Web Sites