Stage: Investigation of the neural correlates of emotional contagion in mice
The Keysers and Gazzola group (Social Brain Lab) investigates the neurobiological basis of empathy and prosocial behaviors, employing human studies and rodent behavioral models.
The specific project will use behavioral paradigms mimicking a form of empathy in mice combined with anatomical tracing, to try to understand which brain regions are involved in emotional contagion. To this end, the project will involve stereotactic surgery in the mouse brain in order to target with anatomical tracer substances the anterior cingulate cortex, one of the core regions of the empathy brain network. Additionally, we will perform in vivo optogenetics in freely behaving mice in order to manipulate brain regions involved in the specific behavior.
You will perform behavioral experiments such as fear conditioning and emotional contagion, sectioning and staining of brains slices, immunohistochemistry and microscope scanning of brain sections. You will read relevant background literature, attend lab meetings and journal clubs, formulate research questions and hypotheses, collect data, analyze collected data, and give a presentation on a research question. For this, we need the student to be available full time for at least 6 months.
Master student and familiarity with rodents procedures