The functional connectivity between the cortex and sub cortical regions, including the basal ganglia, plays a major role in sensory-motor intergration, reward-based learning and action control. Elucidating the neuromodulatory mechanisms that regulate this connectivity is the primary focus of our research activity, both under physiological and pathological conditions.
In the lab, we investigate how distinct classes of neuromodulators (dopamine, serotonin, noradrenaline, adenosine and endocannabinoids) act in a coordinated manner to shape cell-type- and input-specific forms of synaptic plasticity, seeking to understand how these plasticity changes affect action planning and adaptation (e.g. learning of goal directed actions, their flexible use and how they become habitual). This is relevant to elucidate how goal-directed and habitual behaviors are formed and maintained, but also how they are modified in diseases, which affect aspects of motor control (such as Parkinson’s disease) or cognition and motivation (such as drug addiction or compulsive disorders).