Behavioral neuroscience

The research is focused on the behavioral and neurobiological basis for individual differences. Of special interest is refinement of experimental methods, and the combination of behavioral and neurobiological characterization to investigate the association between behavioral characteristics, such as emotionality and risk-taking behavior, and neurobiology in individual risk and resilience to develop addiction. Here the focus is on alcohol use disorders and gambling disorder.

Behavioral characterization is conducted using the multivariate concentric square field™ (MCSF) test; a technique with an ethoexperimental approach that in one test situation permit measurements of behaviors associated with general activity, exploration, risk assessment, risk taking and shelter seeking. The MCSF test enables a behavioral profiling and thus refines and expands behavioral characterization relative to conventional tests. Studies on zebrafish are performed in collaboration with Professor Svante Winberg (Dept. of Neuroscience). Dr. Anne-Lie Svensson brings in vitro competence into the projects.

PhD student Stina Lundberg uses the MCSF test to characterize individual differences in behavior, stress responsivity and underlying neurobiology of relevance for excessive voluntary alcohol intake in adolescents; a relatively unexplored area. This project includes selectively bred alcohol-preferring and non-preferring rats in collaboration with Dr. Richard L. Bell (IUPUI, Indianapolis, USA).

PhD student Nikita Tjernström studies individual differences in emotional and risk-related behaviors, impulsivity and gambling strategies, and underlying brain network connectivity (fMRI) and neurobiological correlates. This project aims at investigating shared and unique mechanisms in gambling disorder relative to alcohol and substance use disorders; conducted in collaboration with Professor Kent W. Nilsson (Center for Clinical Research, Västerås) and Dr. Sarah Holst.

Palm S, Hävermark Å, Meyerson BJ, Nylander I*, Roman E*. When is a Wistar a Wistar? Behavioral profiling of outbred Wistar rats from five different suppliers using the MCSF test. Applied Animal Behaviour Science (2011), 135, 128-137. *shared senior authorship.