Behavioural and Stress Studies

Group 71
Leaders: Dóra Zelena

Our main research focus is the different preclinical models of human disorders for studying the neurobiological background as well as to develop potential therapies. We are especially interested in stress-related psychopathologies. In order to mimic the clinical problems as closely as possible, several new behavioral models were developed.

Research performed by the group is multidisciplinary with high translational value. Our subjects are laboratory rats and mice, but we are collaborating with groups conducting studies on human subjects, too. The main target of this collaboration is the postraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Detailed behavioural phenotyping is conducted and endocrinological techniques are employed to characterize the hormonal consequences of stressors. Stress-induced changes in autonomic arousal and its correlation with behavioral dysfunctions is studied by in vivo biotelemetry. Brain mechanisms are examined by immunohistochemical, PCR and by opto- and chemogenetic and epigenetic techniques. Recently we turned also to hypothesis-free testing in the field of glycobiology and metabolomics. Finally, the possibilities of pharmacological intervention are explored by behavioral pharmacological studies that are based on the locally-discovered neural correlates and mechanisms that underlie stress-induced behavioral dysfunctions. The group is involved in drug development programs initiated locally or performed on request by pharmaceutical companies.

Along these lines we have three main ongoing projects:

  1. PTSD as metabolic disease
  2. The role of median raphe and its special cells in behaviour using Cre mice-lines and opto- and well as pharmacogenetic techniques
  3. Behavioral characterization of a 3xTg-AD mouse model of Alzheimer's disease, development of depression-like symptoms

Excerpt from the Guidebook of the Institute 2015.


  • NKFIH Two distinct serotonergic systems in the brain: implications for the control of social behavior (2016.12.01.-2020.11.30)
  • NKFIH Energy homeostasis of the prefrontal cortex contributes to the development of posttraumatic stress disorder (2019.12.01.-2023.11.30)

Lab members:

Dóra ZelenaGroup Leader, Senior Research Fellow
József HallerScientific Advisor
Tiago ChavesResearch Assistant
Grébeczné Bánrévi KrisztinaTechnician
Bibiána TörökPhD Student
Csilla FazekasPhD Student
Pedro CorreiaPhD Student
Dorottya VárkonyiUndergraduate Student
Bálint Szóllóssy-CsomaUndergraduate Student
Ákos HellingerUndergraduate Student