The European Research Council (ERC) has awarded a Starting Grant to Ingo Willuhn for his research on regional dopamine release. A Starting Grant is a personal grant of 1.5 million euros which is meant to support talented researchers for a period of five years while they conduct research.
Willuhn will focus on a part of the brain known as the striatum, which has multiple functional domains. The limbic system, for example, is thought to be responsible for regulating the motivational aspects of actions, while the sensorimotor part is believed to be involved in automatisation (habit forming). Besides investigating how both domains communicate with each other, Willuhn will also focus on the question of whether the compulsive execution of automatic actions (typical for obsessive-compulsive disorder and substance addiction) is related to the disruption of dopamine signals in the striatum.