CoActions Lab

Cognition and Actions Lab

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Clara got a Fonds Spécial de Recherche (FSR) grant from the UCLouvain for 2024

Congratulations to Clara who got a Fonds Spécial de Recherche (FSR) grant from the UCLouvain for 2024. This will allow her to work on her project while securing fundings for the rest of her thesis.
Her research project aims to understand the causal role of arousal, including the specific contribution of neuromodulatory systems using norepinephrine (NE) and dopamine (DA), in the control of two different aspects of human behavior: decision making and reaching movements. She will test the hypothesis that the function of arousal includes (1) a substantia nigra (SN)-DA-mediated route invigorating behavior and (2) a locus coeruleus (LC)-NE-mediated route streamlining this invigoration in a goal-directed manner. This idea will be tested in 3 work packages (WPs), all using long-latency reflexes elicited by mechanical perturbations as marker of goal-directed control policy and all involving an orthogonal manipulation of LC-NE and SN-DA systems. A highlight of the project is the use of transcutaneous Vagus Nerve Stimulation (tVNS) to causally perturb LC-NE in all WPs; the SN-DA system will be targeted by manipulating reward in healthy subjects (WP1-2) and by considering Parkinson’s disease patients, either ON or OFF DA (WP3). Using these procedures, WP1 will focus on decision making, WP2 will focus on reaching movements and WP3 will consider the causal role of arousal in relation to neurodegeneration of SN & LC (measured with structural MRI) in Parkinson’s disease patients. Overall, this work will contribute to both fundamental neuroscience and neurology, as it will help better understand the causal role of arousal in the regulation of our behaviors and will open the path to new treatments in neurological disorders, such as in Parkinson’s disease.