Social stress makes us more vulnerable to development psychiatric disorders such as substance use disorders. How this negative experience alters brain function and increases vulnerability is not well understood. Currently, we focus on the brain processing of salient motivational cues. The response to aversive and rewarding cues involves the activation/inhibition of specific neuronal ensembles and circuits in key areas of the brains such as the prefrontal cortex and the ventral tegmental area. We work to identify the neuronal substrates that link social stress to a higher risk for psychiatric disorders.
Our laboratory utilizes the chronic implantation of electrode arrays in the brain to record neuronal activity in behaving animals.
Tracking the neuronal response to aversive and rewarding events. How does the brain represent aversive and rewarding events? How do repetitive stress and anxiety change this neuronal representation?
Social stress, neuronal ensembles, cognitive behavior and motivation. How and when the repeated exposure to aversive experiences impairs cognitive and motivational behavior? Which are the neuronal activity changes that make us more vulnerable to develop psychiatric disorders?
Translational Research: Our laboratory works in collaboration with the Cognition and Neuromechanics Laboratory, School of Engineering, to better understand the neuronal correlates of motor and cognitive behavior in human subjects.