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Manipulating the neural circuit underlying social defense

Grant number: 16/18667-0
Support type:Research Grants - Young Investigators Grants
Duration: October 01, 2017 - September 30, 2022
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Morphology - Anatomy
Principal researcher:Simone Cristina Motta
Grantee:Simone Cristina Motta
Home Institution: Instituto de Ciências Biomédicas (ICB). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Associated grant(s):19/05579-3 - Neural circuits underpinning social stress: implications for alterations in prenatally stressed animals, AV.EXT
Associated scholarship(s):21/02864-9 - The role of the juxtadorsomedial region of the lateral hypothalamus in processing environment cues associated with social defeat, BP.DD
20/09269-6 - Chemogenetic inhibition of the juxtadorsomedial part of the lateral hypothalamic area in social defense, BP.IC
20/06206-3 - Role of positive CART neurons of the medial amygdala nucleus during social defeat, BP.DD
+ associated scholarships 19/11916-2 - Afferent projections of the dorsal premammillary nucleus of the hypothalamus (PMD) in C57BL/6 mice, BP.IC
19/03875-4 - Estrogen receptor and POMC colocalization in the hypothalamus during sexual behavior and maternal aggression in female rats, BP.IC
19/03840-6 - The role of POMC in hypothalamic sites in female sexual behavior, BP.IC
18/24288-7 - Hypothalamic activation after restraint stress and social stress in C57BL/6 mice, BP.IC
18/15757-3 - The role of the ventral pre-mammillary nucleus of the hypothalamus, the ventrolateral part of the ventromedial nucleus of the hypothalamus and the principal part of the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis in the organization of the social defense, BP.MS
18/12763-2 - Importance of the medial amygdala nucleus efferent projections in the organization of social defense, BP.MS
18/07476-4 - Maintenance of transgenic strains in the Department of Anatomy, ICB, USP, BP.TT - associated scholarships


Social behaviors are strategies to ensure the group's stability and survival of the species and, in that sense, social defense has an important role in maintaining the integrity of both the individual and the group. Understanding how the brain perceives the stimuli, processes it and choose the best behavioral response is one of the key issues in Neuroscience, and the study of social defense has a particular translational importance, once, in humans, it can lead to the development of psychopathologies. Adding this panorama, the Functional Neuroanatomy was one of the areas of knowledge that showed scientific and technological advances in recent years, much as a result of genetic manipulation techniques that expanded the range of scientific questions we can address. Previous work from our laboratory have shown that specific hypothalamic nuclei are central to the expression of social defense, however, what information is relevant and how it achieves that hypothalamic circuit remains unknown. Thus, the aim of this project is to install in the Department of Anatomy, ICB, USP, a line of research that seeks to elucidate the circuits involving the social defense using the state of the art techniques of genetic manipulation combined with the use of transgenic animals and classical neuroanatomical techniques. For that, we are going to: 1) make the ethogram of social defense in mice to identify behavioral patterns and neural activation; 2) understand how social information reaches the already known circuit; 3) study the possible influence of entrapment in social defense. (AU)

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