Behavioural and Molecular Neurobiology

Fields of research

  • Neurochemical and molecular mechanisms underlying emotionality (anxiety, fear, depression) and social behaviours (aggression, social recognition, social phobia, SOCIAL FEAR CONDITIONING, maternal care) in rodents.
  • Establishing relevant animal models to study the involvement of neuropeptides (oxytocin, vasopressin, CRH) in the regulation of complex behaviours and the stress response (intracerebral microdialsis, retrodialysis, adenoviral vectors).
  • Consequences of chronic psychosocial stress experienced either early in life or in adulthood on immunological, neuroendocrine and neuronal parameters important for the etiology of colitis and cancerogenesis.

Research projects

  • Involvement of brain oxytocin in social behaviour, such as social preference, social phobia and social fear conditioning and extinction, as well as social recognition
  • Involvement of vasopressin in maternal care and maternal aggression
  • Molecular and neuronal effects of oxytocin, vasopressin and prolactin
  • Immunological, neuronal and behavioural consequences of chronic psychosocial stress in a mouse and rat model of chronic subordinate colony housing (CSC)
  • Chronic and acute stress-induced alterations of the HPA axis; focus on the adrenals
  • Adaptation of the emotional and neuroendocrine stress response peripartum and consequences of chronic stress in pregnancy upon these adaptations
  • Neurobiology of aggression: rats selectively bred for high/low anxiety as a model for high and abnormal aggression; Effects of early life stress on brain neuropeptide systems and juvenile, adolescent and adult emotional and stress-related responses


NIMH, Bethesda , USA; Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden; Aarhus University, Denmark; University Medical School, Edinburgh University, UK; EPFL Lauzanne, Switzerland; Dept. of Neuropharmacology, University of Milan, Italy; MPI of Psychiatry, Munich, Germany; Pharma Industries for substance testing; Management of the International Elite-Masters'-Programme "Experimental and Clinical Neurosciences" (

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