The Fioravante lab was established at the Center for Neuroscience in 2015. Being a part of the CNS, we benefit from collaborations and interactions with more than twenty other neuroscience research groups in areas ranging from molecular and developmental neurobiology to celllular, systems and cognitive neuroscience. We also have access to cutting-edge imaging facilities, sequencing facilities at the state-of-the-art UC Davis Genome Center and top-notch rodent behavior cores.
Examples of ongoing projects
1. Cerebellar regulation of motivated behavior
The cerebellum processes reward and punishment signals, but how are these signals shaped, communicated and used to control motivated behavior?
Using in vivo large-scale recordings and optogenetics, we described for the first time the functional connectivity between the cerebellum and nucleus accumbens, an important control center for motivated behavior, through the VTA and thalamus.
2. Prediction and valence regulation in emotional learning
Damage to the cerebellum leads to blunted affect and fear dysregulation. We use mouse models to gain insights into how the cerebellum modulates emotional processing.
Using viral tracing approaches and slice optophysiology, we provided the missing link between the cerebellum and the limbic system, which could explain cerebellar modulation of affective processing.
3. Autism, intellectual disability and the cerebellum
With the emerging understanding that the cerebellum plays a critical role in higher order brain function and that perturbed cerebellar functioning can lead to autism- and intellectual disability-relevant phenotypes, there is strong justification and need for focus on cerebellar dysfunction in autism animal models.
Our work has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Mental Health, the Brain Research Foundation, the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation (NARSAD), the Hellman Fellows Fund, the Whitehall Foundation, and the Behavioral Health Center of Excellence.