Behavioral and translational neuroscience

Using a combination of traditional behavioral testing and modern, advanced  manipulation methods, our research mainly focuses on the neurobiological basis of behavior, both in physiological and pathological circumstances.

Our work is mostly divided (but not limited to) two distinct research lines.

The first research project, funded by the Norwegian Research Council, investigates the neural mechanisms behind normal and aberrant motivated behaviors. Many brain areas in the so-called reward system are involved in the regulation of these behaviors. In response to sensory input such as smelling attractive food or mate partner, certain brain mechanisms may trigger behaviors to approach the food or sexual partner and start consuming or copulating. Disturbances in the reward system are related to many disorders like addiction, obesity, and obsessive compulsive behavior, in which the reward system is too active, or anhedonia and sexual dysfunctions in which motivation is lacking.

The second project, funded by Helse Nord RHF, researches the neurodevelopmental effects of antenatal antidepressant behavior. Several studies in humans describe that antidepressant use during pregnancy can have long-lasting effects on neurobehavioral outcomes in offspring, such as affected social-emotional development, and increased internalizing and externalizing behaviors. In our rat model we can study the behavioral alterations in social-, anxiety-and depressive-like behaviors and molecular changes in the brain in offspring due to antenatal depression, antidepressant treatment, or the combination thereof. In order to investigate the behavioral alterations, we use a seminatural environmental set-up in which rats live in groups for several days and can express all aspects of behavior. Our seminatural environmental approach allows us to study their neurodevelopmental behavioral changes in a social context which is translational to the real life of children.

Our research group consists of researchers with a variety of backgrounds and is lead by associate professor Eelke Snoeren.

Activities
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The group:
Eelke Snoeren Group Leader
Roy Heijkoop Research engineer
Patty Huijgens PhD student
Indrek Heinla Postdoc
Jan Hegstad Master student
Aslaug Angelsen Bachelor student
Thor-Arne Sørlie Bachelor student
Alumni
Bjørn Skagen MSc Psychology


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