Neuromodulation & Behaviour

Deep brain stimulation or DBS has shown to be effective in therapy-resistant cases of a number of neurological and psychiatric diseases. Despite extensive clinical and experimental research, our knowledge of the mechanisms of action of DBS still is limited.

The research program of this group focuses on two main questions. 1. How does DBS work? How does high frequency stimulation affect brain tissue? Does it change functional neurocircuitry or alter neurochemical transmission? 2. What are the best and safest brain targets for changing pathological behavior in obsessive-compulsive disorder, major depression, addiction and eating disorders? As these diseases are characterized by profound behavioral alterations due to disturbances of affect, motivation and cognition, our research is focused on neurobiological substrates of motivational behavior in general.

Our approach is translational and multidisciplinary; clinical findings from DBS studies in humans are translated in relevant animal models, in which we observe effects of DBS on behavior and its underpinning neurocircuitry. Our animal research tools include methods for intracerebral stimulation in freely moving rodents, in combination with tests for emotional and cognitive behavior, in set-ups such as elevated plus maze and Skinner boxes, with in vivo neurochemical measurements based on microdialysis or fast-scan cyclic voltammetry and with electrophysiological recordings of single-unit activity with simultaneous reverse dialysis.