Andrés Abin Carriquiry, PhD
Depto. de Neuroquímica, IIBCE
Daniella Agrati, PhD
Sección Fisiología, Facultad de Ciencias, UdelaR
Affiliative behaviors in mammals, like sexual or maternal behaviors, are associated with affective experiences and share a motivational basis. Our group is interested in understanding how endocrine and environmental factors shape the behavioral response of female rats towards social incentives, as are males for a sexually active female or pups for a mother. Within this framework, we are studying the expression of sexual and maternal motivations during the postpartum estrus, a unique period in which females are sexually and maternally motivated at the same time. Thus, we are analyzing the influence of the context, as well as the neural mechanisms beneath the interaction of these social motivations. In addition, we are studying the expression of the sexual motivation of female rats during adolescence, a transitional period in the lifetime in which neural circuits and endocrine axis that modulate social behaviors and motivational processes are still maturing.
Luis Barbeito, MD, PhD
Laboratorio de Neurodegeneración, Institut Pasteur de Montevideo
Patricia Lagos, PhD
Depto. de Fisiología, Fac.de Medicina, UdelaR
Neuropeptides are among the most diverse group of neurotransmitters and
neuromodulators within the central nervous system (CNS) of mammals. They
produce their physiological effects through the activation of G-protein coupled
receptors (GPCR) with the particular characteristic that they suffer an
internalization into the cell with the ligand. Previously we just studied the
participation of one of such neuropeptides, melanin-concentrating hormone
(MCH) in the sleep-wake cycle and in depression in rats with several in vivo
approaches. In our research group we are interested in understanding the
mechanism of action of MCH at their endogenous GPCR, the MCHR-1 type, in
different areas in the CNS of the rat using in vivo and in vitro experimental
approaches in order to elucidate the internalization process and the intracellular
cascade that MCH activate. For these studies, we use in vivo stereotaxic
microinjections, tissue processing, immunofluorescence, epifluorescence and
confocal microscopy, and in vitro primary culture neurons from embryonic raphe
nucleus and hippocampus.
Eduardo Mizraji, MD
Sección Biofísica, Fac. de Ciencias, UdelaR
Our recent work concerns the neural modeling of the generation of symbolic activities, including the logical operations involved in some process of reasoning. Recently, we explore with top-down models how simple prepositions of common language (e.g.: behind, after, on), trigger the recognition of spatial or temporal asymmetries. In our heuristic approach, we assume that these prepositions act as passwords that give access to neural processes connecting different hierarchical levels of coding, running from the concrete phonetic of the words towards the abstract symbolic neural computations.
Silvia Olivera, PhD
Neurobiología Celular y Molecular - Depto. de Neurociencias Integrativas y Computacionales, IIBCE
Michel Borde, MD, PhD
Depto. de Fisiología, Fac. de Medicina, UdelaR
We are particularly interested in the neural basis of behavior with emphasis on the cellular and synaptic levels of integration. Our main research lines focus on: (l) The neural strategies for the development of electromotor outputs in vertebrates.E lectrophysiological analysis of a central pacemaker nucleus, the command source for the generation of electrical signals used for the exploration and sensory communication in electric fish. (ll) Behavioral state-dependent synaptic plasticity. Analysis in rat brainstem slices of the cholinergic modulation of synaptic efficacy in a mesopontine neural network involved in the control of REM sleep and wakefulness.
Ruben Budelli, PhD
Sección Biomatemática, Fac. de Ciencias, UdelaR
Patricia Cassina MD, PhD
Dpto. de Histología y Embriología, Fac. de Medicina, UdelaR.
Astrocytes are multitalented glial cells that contribute with neuronal survival. Following
damage in the Central Nervous System astrocytes undergo functional and
morphological changes known as reactive gliosis. Our goal is to understand the
mechanisms by which reactive astrocytes may affect neuronal survival or function in
the human neurodegenerative disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. Recently we have
shown that mitochondrial function in reactive astrocytes is associated to a neurotoxic
phenotype that induces motor neuron death which may contribute to disease
Using cellular and animal models of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) we have
demonstrated mitochondrially targeted pharmacology restored mitochondrial
dysfunction in reactive astrocytes and delayed motor symptoms of the disease. We are
currently developing different strategies to selectively targeted therapies to astrocyte
mitochondria in order to halt motor neuron death in ALS.
The final goal of the latter is to gain knowledge on the role of astrocyte-neuron
interaction in neurodegenerative diseases.
Raúl Russo, PhD
Depto. de Neurofisiología Celular y Molecular, IIBCE.
Member of the Organizing Committee. Dr. Russo is the Head of the Department of Cellular and Molecular Neurophysiology. The work in his department focuses in understanding the processes that regulate stem cell biology and the role they could play in repairing the injured nervous system. To address these problems we use a multi-technical approach that combines the use of "in vivo" and "in vitro"preparations, "patch-clamp" recordings, immunohistochemistry, Ca2+ imaging, confocal and electron microscopy and molecular biology. A better understanding of the mechanisms that regulate properties such as the proliferation and lineage potential of progenitors will provide key information for the future development of cell replacement therapies. We are also interested in the synaptic and cellular mechanisms of sensorimotor integration. We study the role of intrinsic electrophysiological properties in the transfer of the information carried by the primary afferents and the mechanisms regulating synaptic transmission at the first synapse in the somatosensory system. Our studies provided the first functional evidence of a non-spiking microcircuit in the spinal cord that can regulate synaptic efficacy. Our goal is to understand the nature of this microcircuit that generates a conspicuous component of the primary afferent depolarization during pre-synaptic inhibition.
Cecilia Scorza, PhD
Depto. de Neurofarmacología Depto. de Neurofarmacología Experimental, IIBCE.
The goals of the Department are focused on the study of the brain circuits involved in the physiopathology and treatment of major depression and schizophrenia. About depression, we are interested in the melanin concentrating hormone (MCH) role in the induction of a depressive-state. Taking into account that hypothalamic MCHergic neurons send projections to the Dorsal raphe and Locus Coerulus nuclei (brain regions related to the neurobiology of depression and the mechanism of action of antidepressant drugs) we investigate how the MCHergic system interacts with these regions and how induces depressive behavioral states. To address these issues we use behavioral, neurochemical and immunohistochemical approaches, and confocal and electron microscopy. About schizophrenia, different evidences have proved the involvement of thalamo-cortical circuits in the psychotomimetic action of the non-competitive NMDA receptor antagonists (used as a pharmacological model of schizophrenia). We study the connections between the reticular and anterior thalamic nuclei and their main projections to the retrosplenial cortex and hippocampus and its participation in behaviors related with psychosis and cognitive impairments induced by MK-801 (the most potent NMDA antagonist). Behavioral, pharmacological and immunohistochemical approaches are used to achieve these objectives. Besides, in the last years we began to study the factors that could determine the fast and great dependence induced by addictive drugs. We are studying the relevance of some active adulterants commonly found in seized cocaine samples (caffeine and phenacetine) and the route of administration (pulmonary inhalation) in the dependence and toxicity of smoked cocaine. We include in our studies, chemical analysis of seized samples, behavioral and neurochemical approaches.
Ana Silva, PhD
Unidad bases Neurales de la Conducta, IIBCE - Laboratorio de Neurociencias, Fac. de Ciencias, UdelaR
Understanding how the brain controls social behavior in vertebrates is extremely challenging, but the conservation of a core social brain network across vertebrate taxa allows the use of tractable animal model systems to gain insight into general strategies of control. Our group is interested in the study of neuroendocrine basis of social behavior with a neuroethological approach in which we analyze both environmental influences as well as evolutionary aspects, combining field work, behavioral recordings, pharmacological modulations, electrophysiology, endocrine, cellular, and transcriptomic approaches. We are currently focusing on the study of the role of hypothalamic neuropeptides (vasotocin in particular) and steroid hormones (estradiol in particular) in the modulation of different types of aggression displayed by both native weakly electric fish and annual fish.