My laboratory is interested in studying the neural circuits underlying social and cognitive functions. More specifically we aim at examining the genetic and environmental factors regulating the development of these circuits. In particular we investigate how genetic modifications and early environmental conditions affect these circuits and lead to altered social and cognitive functions and in some case to disorders such as autism and schizophrenia.
To this purpose, we use various behavioral techniques in transgenic and non-transgenic mice such as behavioral manipulations during specific windows of vulnerability and behavioral testing of social and cognitive functions. We also use pharmacological approaches (systemic and central administration of drugs) to determine the contribution of various neurotransmitters to higher behavioral functions. Finally, we use optogenetics to modify gene expression transiently and locally in awake and behaving mice. In addition to in vivo techniques, we use molecular biology in brain tissue to assess gene and protein expression in particular regions (hippocampus, prefrontal cortex).