The Laboratory of Behavioral Endocrinology at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte was created in 1996 to study the interactions between hormones and behavior. Previously we were involved in the study of reproductive strategies in common marmosets (Callithrix jacchus) a small Neotropical primate native from this geographical region of Brazil. The studies were developed in both captive and free-ranging animals and found sex biased behavioral expression as well as dimorphic cortisol secretion. We also characterize some aspects of the chronobiology of social behaviors in reproductive pairs and litters and prolactin participation in paternal behavior. Currently we are involved with two main lines of interest in hormones and behavior interactions:
(i) In common marmosets we remain investigating aspects of sex differences in stress response system in the perspective of extended the... ( More information )
Nervous systems evolved as mediators of a sensory-motor loop, orchestrating behavioral outputs as appropriate responses to the environmental conditions read by the senses. A fundamental goal of neuroscience is, thus, to understand how brain circuits work to sustain perception and organize behavior. Much progress has been made by recording brain activity in model animals performing structured and reproducible sensory-motor tasks. This approach allows the experimenter to perform statistical analysis of neuronal correlates under well-controlled conditions. This, however, comes at a cost, as both stimuli and behavior are restricted and forced out of the natural range under which brain function evolved. Modern recording and analysis techniques are driving a new wave of ethology, allowing the study of natural behaviors in freely moving animals under strict quantitative... ( More information )
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Despite enormous advances in our knowledge about the brain, it remains largely unknown how exactly networks of brain cells give rise to cognitive functions such as learning, memory, reasoning, planning and decision making. Our lab is generally interested in understanding the neuronal correlates of several cognitive processes through computational techniques for analyzing and modeling electrophysiological signals. One primary line of research in our lab focuses on studying brain oscillations and their interaction, a phenomenon known as cross-frequency coupling, which has recently been shown to play a role in cognitive functioning. Other lines of research in our lab include the development and application of computational tools for identifying cell assemblies and their dynamics, and the elaboration of computational models to understand memory consolidation, re-consolidation and extinction. ( More information )
Neurons in early visual cortex were believed to be spatially restricted analyzers of the visual world. However, in the past years, it became increasingly clear that a single neuron's response is critically influenced by stimuli presented outside the classical receptive field. Thus, it has been proven difficult to characterize the coding of complex stimuli at the level of single neurons. Using optical imaging techniques and multi-electrode recordings, we investigate cortical representations at the population level. The comprehensive spatial information gained with the imaging technique is complemented by the temporal precision of electrophysiological recordings from previously identified cortical sites of interest. In order to investigate the contribution of different cortico-cortical circuits to cortical representations we apply reversible deactivation and microstimulation techniques. ( More information )
The Functional Neuroimaging Lab (NeuroImago) was established in 2003 and is focused on the application of non-invasive tools to investigate questions related to the field of cognitive and clinical neurosciences. For now, we have devoted special interest to Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), electroencephalography (EEG) and magnetoencephalography (MEG).
Currently, the lab is installed in Hospital Universitário Onofre Lopes (HUOL) of the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte (UFRN) and Brain Institute. ( More information )
Research interests: Identify genetic profiles of neurons of the auditory system (cochlear nucleus, lateral lemniscus, inferior colliculus, medial geniculate body and auditory cortex); Modulate excitability and control activity of homogeneous groups of auditory neurons using optogenetics and chemogenetics; Supress tinnitus perception in a behavioural model (the gap pre-pulse inhibition of the acoustic startle reflex).
Methodology: Transgenic animals; Viral vectors; Auditory brainstem response; Behavioural test (GPIAS; Gap pre-pulse inhibition of the acoustic startle reflex); Electrophysiology (Unit records; Whole-cell patch clamp); Immunohistochemistry; Confocal microscopy. ( More information )
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This lab investigates the molecular, cellular, circuit-level and psychological mechanisms responsible for the cognitive role of sleep. Explicit memories, i.e. memories of places, things and events involve two different brain portions: while the hippocampus acts as a short-term buffer, memories eventually move to the cerebral cortex. Investigating rats with multielectrode neuronal recordings and in situ hybridization for plasticity-related immediate-early genes, it was found that memories of novel objects fade within minutes in the hippocampus, but persist reverberating in the cortex during sleep many hours after the end of object exploration. The results indicate that the two phases of sleep cooperate to promote the propagation of memories from their entry point (hippocampus) to their final destination (cortex). The non-dreaming phase of sleep (slow-wave sleep, SWS) reverberates and amplifies recently acquired changes... ( More information )
Our laboratory investigates the function and mechanisms of synaptic plasticity in cortico-limbic circuits required for the coordination of cognitive, emotional and social behaviors. Neurons located in the prefrontal cortex, ventral hippocampus, thalamus and basal forebrain make up networks involved to accomplish these behaviors. Evidence indicates that dysfunctions in these circuits underlie the appearance of abnormal behaviors observed in neurological and psychiatric disorders such as epilepsy and autism. Our lab is particularly interested in understanding how oscillatory coupling between the hipocampus and prefrontal cortex correlates to synaptic plasticity mechanisms such as LTP and LTD and how they are modulated by the local cortical GABAergic neurons. Additional focus of our lab is to investigate (1) how epileptic circuits increase the vulnerability of individuals to develop psychiatric symptoms and (2) which are... ( More information )