Coutellier Lab

Research

Our laboratory is interested in how the GABAergic system contributes to neuropsychiatric disorders, whether they are the results of abnormal inhibitory circuit development induced by environmental exposures, or the inability to respond or habituate to stressfull situation in adulthood. The main areas of research of our laboratory are:

  • How abnormal GABAergic development, as a result of genetic disruptions, environmental factors, or their interactions, can lead to social and cognitive deficits observed in several neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism or schizophrenia..
    • We aim at understanding the molecular regulators of normal postnatal maturation of the prefrontal GABAergic system, and how their disruptions affect behaviors.
    • Stressful events during the prenatal, early postnatal or adolescent periods can have long lasting consequences on behaviors. Our goal is to find how these early stresses affect the development of the inhibitory circuits.
  • How the GABAergic system is the adult brain contributes to vulnerability to stress-related psychopathologies such as depression or anxiety.
    • We focus especially on determining whether the ability of the GABAergic system to adapt and to be recruited during chronic stress contributes to stress resilience.

Approach

We use a variety of techniques to answer our research questions:

  • Conventional and conditional knockout mice
  • Behavioral assays and manipulations in mice to assess social and cognitive functions, and to modify the environment of developing mice.
  • Brain surgery to provide pharmacological treatments into the specific brain regions of mice.
  • Neuronanatomical techniques on brain tissue such as stereological cell counting, immunohistochemical and immunoflurorescent staining.
  • Molecular biology such as Western blot, RT-qPCR, ELISA.
  • Chemogenetics to temporarily and spatially control the activity of specific neuronal population during various behavioral tasks.