Research in the Banghart Lab aims to understand how neuromodulatory signaling contributes to physiological processes such as pain modulation, associative learning, and behavioral reinforcement. Major focus areas include the role of endogenous opioid neuropeptide and biogenic amine neurotransmitters in top-down pain modulation, as well as the molecular mechanisms that regulate neuropeptide secretion from neurons. Our approach is multi-faceted and interdisciplinary. To understand neuromodulation at the circuit level, we rely on contemporary "circuit hacking" methods such as chemogenetic and optogenetic manipulations, as well as in vivo imaging of Ca2+ and neuromodulator signaling in awake, behaving mice. To uncover the underlying cellular, synaptic, and molecular mechanisms, we rely on electrophysiological and fluorescence imaging experiments in brain slices. Uniquely, our in vivo and ex vivo studies are complemented, and sometimes driven entirely, by the in-house development of photopharmacological tools for manipulating neuromodulatory signaling with high spatiotemporal precision.