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Pre Clinical

pre-clinicalResearch in the laboratory focuses on the understanding of the neurobiology of stress-related disorders, particularly Post-traumatic stress disorder and stress-induced depression.

We examine the effects of stressful experiences early and later in life on cognitive and emotional abilities in adulthood. We attempt to differentiate between the effects of very early and juvenile stress, acute and chronic stress and between controllable and uncontrollable stress. We have developed rat models of mood and anxiety disorders and are currently studying their electrophysiological and biochemical consequences.
We study the role of emotional activation in memory formation. Using a rat model we assess the interactions between the hippocampus, amygdale, prefrontal and entorhinal cortex, when learning under different levels of emotional activation. Both in vivo field potential recordings and measurements of signal transduction cascade activation are utilized in order to map the patterns of activation of these limbic regions.

 

Some of our current projects:

SSRIs effects in an animal model of PTSD  - We investigate the effects of chronic administration of fluoxetine following a strong stressor in adulthood in animals that were also stressed in juvenility. These effects will be studied using a behavioral readout as well as molecular and biochemical analyses.

 

 The role of Ventral Hippocampus GAD65 in anxiolytic behavior - Recent studies emphasize the importance of GABA and its Co-family factors in mediating affective disorders. In the current study we aim to compare the potential specificity of the role of GAD 65 in anxiety and in learning under stress.We use a lentivirus vector to down regulate GAD 65 directly in the ventral hippocampus of adult rats. The rats are later tested in a behavioral test battery. 

 

 Periaqueductal gray modulation of the basolateral amygdala and the nucleus accumbens under controllable and uncontrollable stressful conditions - By using in vivo local field recordings we test for alterations in plasticity in a circuit that involves the the basolateral amygdala and the nucleus accumbens following exposure to stress under different levels of controllability, and the modulation of these structures by the midbrain periaqueductal gray.

 

Putative mediators of vulnerability and resilience in an animal model of PTSD, with specific interest in GABAergic factors and neuropeptides - We apply different molecular and biochemical expression analysis methods to examine which substances change in response to stress and psychological trauma in certain brain areas. With the use of pharmacological and virus-based tools in combination with behavioral and electrophysiological read-outs, our aim is to find key mediators for stress-related disorders as PTSD.

 

The Effects of Juvenile Stress on the Course of Inflammation - We examine the long-term effects of juvenile stress exposure on inflammation processes, while focusing on individual differences between subjects. In addition, we set out to test the reversibility of the long term effect of the juvenile stress exposure on inflammatory processes by applying enriched environment.