Behavioural and Stress Studies

Group 71
Leaders: József Haller and Dóra Zelena

Our group studies the neurobiological background of emotional and cognitive behavioral processes. In a top-down, biomedical approach we model human psychopatalogies in rodents aiming to i.) understand the neural mechanisms involved in the control of behavior; ii.) clarify malfunctions of these processes potentially contributing to the development of psychopathologies and thus ultimately be able to ii.) suggest treatment opportunities for the behavioral dysfunctions. Particularly, we aim to identify pathomechanisms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), abnormal aggression, and perinatal asphyxia. We combine techniques on the behavioral-neurocircuitry-molecular levels in order to understand the complex nature of these conditions, and maximize face, construct, and predictive validity in our models. Accordingly, we conduct detailed behavioral characterization (based on RDoc domains: testing in multiple cognitive, fear, anxiety, social and arousal-related) with additional optogenetic-chemogenetic-pharmacological manipulations. On the small scale levels, we apply structural and functional investigations by means of hormonal essays, qRT-PCR, immunohistological techniques, and confocal microscopy. Our current studies aim to i.) identify prefrontal, hypothalamic and amygdalar control of aggressive behavior, ii.) dissect the role specific neuronal populations, and neurotransmitter systems (i.e. cannabinoids, corticotropin releasing hormone) in the extended amygdala, prefrontal cortex and hippocampus in the development of PTSD vulnerability, and to iii.) investigate the impact of perinatal asphyxia on cognitive and emotional deficits manifested in later life.

Excerpt from the Guidebook of the Institute 2015.

Lab members:

József HallerScientific Advisor, Group Leader, Head of Department
Dóra ZelenaDeputy Head of Group, Senior Research Fellow
Manó AliczkiSenior Research Fellow
Eszter Bodóné SiposAssociated Research Fellow
Éva MikicsSenior Research Fellow
Máté TóthSenior Research Fellow
Zoltán BaloghPhD Student
László BiróPhD Student
Bíborka BruzsikPhD Student
Zoltán Kristóf VargaPhD Student
Csilla FazekasUndergraduate Student
Cintia FinszterUndergraduate Student
Hanga HorváthUndergraduate Student
Christina MiskolcziUndergraduate Student
Ádám NagyváradiUndergraduate Student
Huba SzebikUndergraduate Student
László SzenteUndergraduate Student
Bibiána TörökUndergraduate Student
Beáta BarsváriTechnician
Katalin Gyimesiné PelczerTechnician