ESCAP 2019 Vienna, State of the Art speakers: Camilla Bellone and Marie Schaer

The rewarding work of translational projects

Camilla Bellone and Marie Schaer work in collaboration under the NCCR-Synapsy project established in Switzerland. The NCCR-Synapsy was launched in 2010 by the Swiss National Science Foundation and is currently in stage 3. It uses a collaborative and translational approach to bridge together clinical psychiatry with basic neuroscience. Driving the NCCR-Synapsy are 5 research areas; autism spectrum disorder, biomarkers in early psychosis, 22q11 deletion syndrome, mood disorders, and developmental stress. About half of the groups focus their research efforts by using animal models, and the other half using clinical cohorts.

Camilla Bellone explores the use of animal models in social paradigms, to look at the causality between circuitry and mechanism and behaviour. Her recent work looks at dopaminergic neurons and the dysfunction in the reward system that shows social impairments in mice. Indeed, these impairments can be detected as structural changes in the reward system in human pre-schoolers. Using a range of techniques, from MRI and EEG, and eye-tracking Marie Schaer has been able to explore the neural networks involved in social interaction and stimuli. The reciprocal relationship between Camilla’s and Marie’s research projects have been focused on the social motivation hypothesis, but not everything is social in ASD. Here, they explain a little of their findings and how they work in this NCCR-Synapsy translation project. They will present in further detail as state of the art speakers in Vienna.

Interesting reads

SHANK3 controls maturation of social reward circuits in the VTA. Bariselli S, Tzanoulinou S, Glangetas C et al. 2016. Nat Neurosci. 19(7):926-934.

Role of VTA dopamine neurons and neuroligin 3 in sociability traits related to nonfamiliar conspecific interaction. Bariselli S, Hornberg H, Prévost-Solié C et al. 2018. Nat Commun. 9;9(1):3173.

SHANK3 Downregulation in the Ventral Tegmental Area Accelerates the Extinction of Contextual Associations Induced by Juvenile Non-familiar Conspecific Interaction. 2018. Bariselli S, Contestabile A, Tzanoulinou S et al. 2018. Front Mol Neurosci. 11 ;11(360).

Social orienting and joint attention in preschoolers with autism spectrum disorders. Franchini M, Glaser B, Wood de Wilde H, et al. 2017 PLoS One. 9;12(6):e0178859

Brief Report: A Preference for Biological Motion Predicts a Reduction in Symptom Severity 1 Year Later in Preschoolers with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Franchini M, Wood de Wilde H, Glaser B, et al. 2016. Front Psychiatry. 24;7:143.

The Default Mode Network in Autism. Padmanabhan A, Lynch CJ, Schaer M, Menon V. 2017. Biol Psychiatry Cogn Neurosci Neuroimaging. 2(6):476-486