Me and my students' research focuses on the neurobiological mechanisms that underlie social behavior in animals. We are particularly interested in various regulatory and modulatory aspects of (1) social learning whereby an individual acquires information from another individual, as well as of (2) social recognition, individual identification and memory. Our research involves small rodents, mainly rats and mice. Our research involves an integration of various aspects of neuroscience from Ethological to Pharmacological, Molecular and Genetic. Naturalistic behavioral models as well as an evolutionary interpretation of results are pivotal factors in our research.
The involvement of the dopaminergic and estrogenic systems in the social transmission of food preferences and social recognition are, at present, the main focus of our research. We are manipulating these systems pharmacologically in order to achieve a better understanding of the neurobiological mechanisms that are at the basis of social learning, individual recognition and other aspects of social behavior.
Other projects are also on going in the lab, in collaboration with other labs at Guelph as well as in other Universities, both in Canada (Mac Master, University of Western Ontario) and abroad (The Rockefeller University, NY; Universita' di Parma, Italy; and Universita' di Pisa, Italy).
In the future we plan to investigate the role, in social learning and recognition, of other systems that are known to regulate social behavior, such as the, oxytocin, vasopressin, GABA/benzodiazepine, cannabinoid and opioid systems.