Compulsivity is a core symptom of obsessive compulsive disorder and other conditions like addiction, and it is often associated with altered activity in the corticostriatal circuits. The goal of my PhD research is to contribute to the understanding of the neural basis of compulsivity and how deep brain stimulation; a therapeutic alternative for OCD patients, affects the altered corticostriatal activity, and can ultimately reduce compulsive symptoms. By studying the network and single neuron activity of the corticostriatal circuit during the expression of compulsive behavior, I aim to detect biomarkers of compulsivity in the brain, and assess how DBS affects this activity. My research approach is to probe the activity of the circuit with and without DBS in the Sapap3 mouse model of OCD, using electrophysiology and calcium imaging.
As a biologist, I am fascinated by how behavior is driven by the activity of billions of neurons in the brain. In my pursuit for a career in behavioral neuroscience, I did my masters in Brain and Cognitive Sciences in the University of Amsterdam, where I learned how to use electrophysiology, optogenetics, and the analysis of neural time series data to study the neurobiology of behavior. In this path I developed a strong interest for functional connectivity in the brain and what makes the switch between flexible and inflexible behavior.