Selected Ongoing Projects
DOPAMINE DEFICITS IN AUTISM
One of the potential causes of autism has been proposed to be a dysfunction in the midbrain dopaminergic system. In this project, we will explore this hypothesis by performing a multidisciplinar caharacterization of the dopaminergic system in mouse models and human postmortem tissue of affected individuals.
FUNDING: MICINN 2021
THE REWARD SYSTEM IN AUTISM
Recent studies have demonstrated the role of the mesolimbic dopamine system (so called reward circuitry) in autism. We are currently studying if and how this circuit, and its modulating systems, is affected in disease models of autism. This could potentially lead to the development of targeted treatments aimed at restoring or compensating the neurochemical imbalance.
FUNDING: MICINN 2018
OXYTOCIN FOR AUTISM?
Several lines of evidence, from animal models to human studies, suggest an association of the oxytocin neurotransmission system and autism. In addition, the small clinical trials performed to date with oxytocin -or related agonists- in patients with autism show promising results. We are investigating the mechanisms by which oxytocin exerts its behavioral effects. Also, as oxytocin is involved in several neurobiological processes during development, we aim to understand the consequences of oxytocin signaling defects in models of autism.
FUNDING: MINECO 2015
CLINICAL STUDIES IN BRAIN AND PSYCHOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENT
Led by Paloma Rohlfs in our team we are interested in studying the role of environmental factors in childrens' brain and psychological development. Specifically, we will focus on the effect of vegetable consumption and physical exercise on behavioral and cognitive variables.