Behavioral Neuroscience

Our group investigates the neurobiology underlying sociosexual behavior in rats. In our research, we use well-established behavioral tests like the sexual incentive motivation test, copulation test, and multiple partner choice test. In addition, we have a semi-natural environment in which the sociosexual behavior of rats living in groups is investigated.

Our research can be divided in four main projects:

  • Neurobiology of sexual motivation and behavior.
    The brain mechanisms underlying sexual behavior are investigated using pharmacological techniques for stimulating and inhibiting neurotransmitter systems

  • Sociosexual behavior of rats housed in a semi-natural environment.
    Group-housing of rats in the semi-natural environment induces the expression of a substantial proportion of the rats’ behavioral repertoire. This procedure makes it possible to analyze in detail the social, emotional and sexual behaviors in a group of rats before, during and after the estrus period of the females

  • Evaluation of possible effects of specific estrogen receptors in sexual motivation and receptivity.
    To investigate the role of specific estrogen receptors on sociosexual behavior in rats, we use site specific silencing of hormone receptor expression with iRNA (shRNA) coupled to a viral vector (inactivated adenovirus).

  • The role of incentives in sexual motivation, sexual behavior, and mate choice.
    What is the role of incentives in sexual motivation, sexual behavior, and mate choice. Is the behavior driven by smell, vision or ultrasonic vocalizations? Techniques like the playback of USVs, devocalization and anosmia are used in this research.

Videos of our semi-natural environment.

The open area

The burrow area