RG Touma: Psychoneuroendocrinology
Max-Planck-Institute of Psychiatry
The focus of the research group Psychoneuroendocrinology is to generate and characterise clinically relevant animal models of inborn (trait) emotionality and stress reactivity in order to elucidate neurobiological, endocrine and molecular-genetic mechanisms underlying affective disorders such as major depression. It is only with deep insight into these mechanisms that novel treatment strategies and promising targets for therapeutic interventions can be developed in the future.
The spectrum of our research includes projects at the genetic, proteomic and systemic level. A variety of behavioural tests assessing emotionality, coping and cognitive functions are applied along with neuroendocrine approaches to analyze neuropeptides and proteins involved in the activity and regulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) axis.
Furthermore, paradigms addressing the interaction between genetic predispositions and environmental influences are used, shedding light on the epigenetic modification of behavioural traits and neurobiological endophenotypes.
In 2007 we have established the emotionality lab, a new core facility at the MPI, to offer standardized phenotyping of mice. To achieve a qualified behavioural characterisation of new mouse models we apply a battery of tests for locomotor activity and exploration, anxiety-related behaviour, and depression-like behaviour / coping strategies in aversive situations. For more detail see: