About the article
Claudio Da Cunha
Claudio Da Cunha, has aimed in his research to understand how the brain learns to select and initiate proper actions based on environmental cues (habits), outcome predictions (goal-directed actions), primary motives (unconditioned responses) or secondary motives (Pavlovian conditioned responses). In his lab they use in vivo electrochemical and microdialysis techniques combined with lesion and pharmacology behavioral studies in freely moving rats to test the hypothesis that action-selection depends on the functioning of the cortico-basal ganglia circuitry and its modulation by midbrain dopaminergic neurons. Such a hypothesis has strong implications for normal learning of procedural memories and abnormal learning and/or action selection processes that contribute to symptoms of Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease, schizophrenia, drug abuse and other neuropsychiatric disorders.
Gonzalo Alexander Gomez Acosta, is currently working on his PhD thesis in Professor Da Cunha’s lab. In his current work he is using in vivo electrochemical recording techniques to test how the release of dopamine in the nucleus accumbens during the presentation of a pair of conditioned and unconditioned stimuli is correlated with the prediction error related to the magnitude, duration, and probability of an appetitive or an aversive stimulus that are presented following presentation of a conditioned stimulus.
Charles D. Blaha
Charles D. Blaha, is interested in a systems neuroscience approach to understanding the neurobiological bases of incentive-motivated behaviors, neuropsychiatric disorders and autism spectrum disorders using state of the art in vivo electrochemical recording techniques. His program of research has involved elucidating receptor mechanisms and neuronal circuitry in the cerebellum, hindbrain and midbrain that are important targets for therapeutic drugs and for mediating the actions of the neurotransmitters acetylcholine, glutamate and several neuropeptides that critically control forebrain dopaminergic neurotransmission. His research also involves the development of new neurochemical recording procedures to improve the therapeutic success of deep brain stimulation in individuals suffering neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease.
Published Online: 2012-10-18
Published in Print: 2012-11-01