Symposium: Neurobiology of rewarding behaviors

After a day filled with four thought-provoking lectures and excellent questions from the audience, the only conclusion we were able to draw was: let's do this again!

Our own Eelke Snoeren gave the first lecture, about the neuroanatomical background of motivation for -and execution of- a specific rewarding behavior, sex. Because this behavior is highly stereotypical, we can investigate which environmental cues are involved during specific phases and what the driving or inhibiting brain projections are. Also, what are some of the new instruments in the neurobiologist's toolkit, when it comes to activating or silencing brain cells, brain areas or connections between areas?

The second lecture was provided by Louk Vanderschuren, who is a professor at Utrecht University in The Netherlands. He explored the definition, social necessity and neurobiology of play behavior. At which age do we see play behavior, which relation does it have to aggression and sexual behavior and how much can we find out about the anatomy using an operant chamber and a drug commonly used for the treatment of ADHD?

After a much needed lunch, we reconvened to see the contribution of James McCutcheon, lecturer at the University of Leicester in the UK. James explained how animals select their food and how their physical needs may drive the motivation towards the selection of certain nutrients. Measuring dopamine release in the brain, he researches how nutrients elicit reward, but also how cues that are associated with food can provoke dopamine release, which is of particular relevance in an environment where we are often confronted with commercials or sweet tasting, but sugarless, foods.

The lecture of Oliver Bosch, professor at the University of Regensburg in Germany, concluded the day. His research subjects are the seemingly extremely gregarious prairie voles. These voles display social monogamy, which makes them very interesting to study social bonds. Oliver started out by explaining how these animals maintain bonds, but then focused more on what happens when social bonds break. There appears to be an important role for corticotropin-releasing hormone on the release of oxytocin in the reward-associated nucleus accumbens.

We thank the guest lecturers for their efforts to immerse our university in neurobiology for a day. But we also like to thank our audience for their attention and their role in productive discussions. We noticed that a large part of the audience attended all lectures, which our lectureres really appreciated. We will certainly try to organize this type of seminar more frequently, so stay tuned.

Below, from left to right:

James McCutcheon, Eelke Snoeren, Oliver Bosch, Louk Vanderschuren

Page administrator: Roy Heijkoop
created: 11.04.2018 15:51