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Family and twin studies have revealed that genetic factors play a major role in psychiatric disorders, however, attempts to find susceptibility genes for these complex disorders have been largely unsuccessful. Therefore, new research strategies are required to tackle the complex interactions of genes, developmental, and environmental events. Here, we will(More)
In young, typically developing children, repetitive behavior similar to that in certain neuropsychiatric syndromes is common. Whereas this behavior is adaptive in typical development, in many disorders it forms a core component of symptoms and causes prominent impairment in the daily life of affected individuals. Understanding the neurobiological mechanisms(More)
We have previously suggested that during or prior to activation of anticipatory behaviour to a coming reward, mu-opioid receptors are activated. To test this hypothesis schedule induced food-anticipatory activity in mu-opioid receptor knockout mice was measured using running wheels. We hypothesized that mu-knockout mice show little food-anticipatory(More)
Mechanisms differentiating diurnal from nocturnal species are thought to be innate components of the circadian timekeeping system and may be located downstream from the circadian pacemaker within the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) of the hypothalamus. In the present study, we found that the dominant phase of behavioral activity and body temperature (Tb) is(More)
Mutations in the human melanocortin (MC)4 receptor have been associated with obesity, which underscores the relevance of this receptor as a drug target to treat obesity. Infusion of MC4R agonists decreases food intake, whereas inhibition of MC receptor activity by infusion of an MC receptor antagonist or with the inverse agonist AgRP results in increased(More)
Sleep-wake circadian rhythms are well documented for nocturnal rodents, but little is known about sleep regulation in diurnal or crepuscular rodent species. This study examined the circadian sleep-wake rhythms in Octodon degus by means of electroencephalogram (EEG) analysis. Recordings were made from animals housed with or without running wheels in the(More)
Autism is a disease of brain plasticity. Inspiring work of Willem Hendrik Gispen on neuronal plasticity has stimulated us to investigate gene defects in autism and the consequences for brain development. The central process in the pathogenesis of autism is local dendritic mRNA translation which is dependent on axodendritic communication. Hence, most(More)
Neurexin-1 alpha (NRXN1α) belongs to the family of cell adhesion molecules (CAMs), which are involved in the formation of neuronal networks and synapses. NRXN1α gene mutations have been identified in neuropsychiatric diseases including Schizophrenia (SCZ) and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). In order to get a better understanding of the pleiotropic(More)
Deficiency of the meso-diencephalic dopamine (mdDA) neuron specific transcription factor Pitx3 in aphakia (ak) mice results in the loss of the substantia nigra compacta (SNc). Concomitantly, reduced spontaneous locomotor behavior, symptoms reminiscent to those in Parkinson's disease, has been reported. However, the ak mouse line originates from the 1960s(More)
Increased physical activity and decreased motivation to eat are common features in anorexia nervosa. We investigated the development of these features and the potential implication of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and dopaminergic signalling in their development in C57BL/6J and A/J inbred mice, using the 'activity-based anorexia' model. In this(More)