Behavioral Neurosciences

Head of the department

Alexandre Seillier, Ph.D.

Schizophrenia is a heterogeneous clinical disorder defined by a cluster of symptoms. Although hallucinations and delusions – the so-called positive symptoms – are the most vivid and conspicuous ones, the negative symptoms of schizophrenia (i.e. alogia, blunted affect, avolition, asociability and anhedonia) are much more persistent and pervasive and have a much greater effect on patients’ quality of life. As already pinpointed by the founding fathers of schizophrenia research, the negative symptoms are currently viewed as the illness core and, together with the cognitive impairments in schizophrenia, as the most significant factor contributing to the functional impairments associated with the disease. Moreover, while antipsychotics can often effectively maintain control of positive symptoms, treatment of negative symptoms has been identified as a vital unmet clinical need. Clearly, the poor understanding of the underlying pathophysiology mechanisms of these symptoms has hindered the development of adequate pharmacological treatments.

In this connection, the overarching research theme of the Behavioral Neuroscience group centers on understanding the neuropsychopharmacology underpinnings of social withdrawal, one of the core negative symptoms and a construct that is accessible to both humans and animals. Specifically, we use behavioral pharmacology, coupled with stereotaxic surgery, functional neuroanatomy and molecular techniques, to identify the neurobiological mechanisms – as well as the altered neuropsychological processes – underlying social withdrawal in animal models for schizophrenia. Ultimately, the goal is to better understand the pathophysiology of negative symptoms, identify novel pharmacological targets and translate this knowledge into new therapies.

Feel free to contact Dr. Seillier if you are interested in joining his lab as a student or postdoc. Motivated students at all levels are always welcome to inquire about positions. 


Key publications

1. Seillier A, Martinez AA, Giuffrida A. Differential effects of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol dosing on correlates of schizophrenia in the sub-chronic PCP rat model. PLoS One. 2020 15(3):e0230238. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0230238. IF=2.8

2. Seillier A, Giuffrida A. Anxiety does not contribute to social withdrawal in the subchronic phencyclidine rat model of schizophrenia. Behav Pharmacol. 2017 28(7):512-520. doi: 10.1097/FBP.0000000000000325. IF=2.2

3. Matricon J, Seillier A, Giuffrida A. Distinct neuronal activation patterns are associated with PCP-induced social withdrawal and its reversal by the endocannabinoid-enhancing drug URB597. Neurosci Res. 2016 110:49-58. doi: 10.1016/j.neures.2016.04.004. IF=2.1

4. Seillier A, Giuffrida A. Disruption of social cognition in the sub-chronic PCP rat model of schizophrenia: Possible involvement of the endocannabinoid system. Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 2016 26(2):298-309. doi: 10.1016/j.euroneuro.2015.12.009. IF=4.2

5. Seillier A, Martinez AA, Giuffrida A. Phencyclidine-induced social withdrawal results from deficient stimulation of cannabinoid CB₁ receptors: implications for schizophrenia. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2013 38(9):1816-24. doi: 10.1038/npp.2013.81. IF=7.8


RP1 Experimental Neurobiology RP2 Public Mental Health RP3 Applied Neuroscience and Neuroimaging RP4 Epidemiological and Clinical Research in Addictions RP5 Sleep Medicine and Chronobiology RP6 Brain Electrophysiology RP7 Clinical Research of Mental Disorders RP8 Translational Neuroscience International Cooperation Department AD Centrum Publications Ongoing Projects Pharmaceutical Industry-Sponsored Research Postgraduate Students Conferences & Seminars Awards International Course 2015
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