Les mécanismes neuronaux impliqués dans les réponses comportementales reliées aux émotions dans les conditions normales et pathologiques

 

Christophe Proulx

Université Laval

 

Domaine : neurosciences, santé mentale et toxicomanies

Programme Chercheurs-boursiers - Junior 1

Concours 2018-2019

Mental illnesses, such as major depression, are one of the main health problem in Canada. One person out of five have mental health problems, conditions often leading to suicide. In addition of having major negative impact on the quality of life, it is estimated that costs related to mental illnesses reach 50 billion dollars each year in Canada. Depressive persons have difficulties having positive emotions, problems to concentrate, exaggerated feeling of helplessness and hopelessness, and suicidal thoughts. These symptoms can be explained by the fact that neural transmission, in the brain, of emotions are processed improperly. These signals are generated by the complex interaction of many brain nuclei in the limbic system, the emotional brain. When negative events occur, such as stress, transmission of these signals become inappropriate and leads to cognitive and behavioral deficits.

In my laboratory, we use innovative approaches to measure and manipulate, in rodents, the neural activity of specific neural ensembles. When combined with behavioral tests, these approaches allow us to precisely dissect how the brain process emotions and reveal cellular and molecular dysfunctions underlying cognitive and behavioral deficits associated with mental illnesses. In the long term, our work will lead in the development of new therapeutic approaches to help people suffering form mental illness.