Institute: Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience (NIN), Amsterdam
Lab: Neuromodulation and Behavior
Title of Project: The neurobiological mechanisms of reinforcement learning, habits, compulsivity, and DBS
Type of Project: Behavioral and neurobiological measurements in rodents
Supervisor: Ingo Willuhn
Duration: Minimum of 6 months
Start date: Applications can be send year-round
End date: Depending on start date
Application deadline: NA
Description of Research Project:
The group, headed by Ingo Willuhn, studies the neurobiological basis of reinforcement learning, decision making, and compulsive behavior using rodent models, predominantly in cortico-striatal circuits. We investigate different aspects of motivated behavior (i.e., habit formation, response flexibility, impulsivity, compulsivity, and patience) and measure brain activity simultaneously. In addition, we investigate the neurobiological mechanisms of the effects of deep-brain stimulation (DBS) in rodent models of psychiatric disorders.
The group closely collaborates with the AMC Psychiatry department and, therefore, has close ties with clinicians and clinical researchers, providing optimal conditions for a translational and multidisciplinary approach. Our research tools include methods for intracerebral stimulation (e.g., DBS, optogenetics, chemogenetics) in freely moving rodents, in combination with tests for motivated, emotional, and cognitive behavior (in set-ups such as elevated plus maze, open field, and operant chambers), real-time neurochemical measurements (e.g., microdialysis, fast-scan cyclic voltammetry), and electrophysiological recordings (single-unit activity and local field potentials, and 1-photon calcium imaging using miniscopes).
The student will be involved in one of the following projects depending on preference and availability:
1. COORDINATION OF REGIONAL DOPAMINE RELEASE IN THE STRIATUM: FUNCTIONAL NEUROANATOMY.
2. THE ROLES OF SEROTONIN AND DOPAMINE IN REINFORCEMENT LEARNING, HABIT FORMATION, AND COMPULSIVITY.
3. MEASUREMENT AND PERTURBATION OF BRAIN ACTIVITY IN RODENT COMPULSIVITY MODELS.
4. EFFECTS OF DBS ON BRAIN FUNCTION AND COMPULSIVE BEHAVIOR.
5. THE NEURAL CODE OF STRIATAL PROJECTION NEURONS AND CORTICAL NEURONS DURING REINFORCEMENT LEARNING, COMPULSIVITY, AND DECISION MAKING.
6. MEASUREMENT AND COMPUTATIONAL MODELING OF NEUROTRANSMITTER RELEASE AND NEURONAL ACTIVITY INVOLVED IN DECISION MAKING AND IMPULSIVE BEHAVIOR.
The student’s role in the project: The student will assist the research team in conducting behavioral experiments with rodents, sectioning and staining brains slices, manufacturing electrodes/optic fibers, conducting brain measurements, and manipulations in behaving rodents. Depending on scientific maturity, the student will run a project independently. The student will read relevant background literature, attend lab meetings and journal clubs, formulate research questions and hypotheses, collect data, analyze collected data, write a report, and give a presentation on a research question.
To apply for this job email your details to firstname.lastname@example.org