Sandi Lab – Laboratory of Behavioral Genetics

We investigate the impact and mechanisms whereby stress and personality affect brain function and behavior, with a focus on the social domain and, particularly, on aggression and social hierarchies.


Specifically, we investigate: The neurobiological mechanisms involved in the formation of social hierarchies, and their modulation by stress and anxiety. Our current work focuses in the mesolimbic system and the role of mitochondrial function in motivation and social competition. The mechanisms whereby early life stress enhances risk to develop psychopathology, with a main focus on the emergence of pathological aggression. We investigate the role of glucocorticoids in determining different neurodevelopmental trajectories following exposure to early life adversity. The mechanisms linking altered neuroplasticity during development and pathological aggression. We focus on genes involved in the polysialylation of the neural cell adhesion molecule NCAM and investigate alterations in gene expression and brain connectivity linked to dysfunctional behaviors. Experimental approaches in the lab include a combination of behavioral, neurobiological, neuroimaging, neurochemical, pharmacological, metabolic, genetic and optogenetic methods. We are as well performing translational studies in humans using virtual reality, behavioral economics, experimental psychology (eye-tracking, computer-based tests) and neuroimaging (EEG, fMRI, MRI, 1H-MRS) approaches.

Representative recent publications

da Cruz et al., 2018

Dominant men are faster in decision-making situations and exhibit a distinct neural signal for promptness. da Cruz J, Rodrigues J, Thoresen JC, Chicherov V, Figueiredo P, Herzog MH, Sandi C. (2018)

van der Kooij MA, 2018

Diazepam actions in the VTA enhance social dominance and mitochondrial function in the nucleus accumbens by activation of dopamine D1 receptors. van der Kooij MA, Hollis F, Lozano L, Zalachoras I, Abad S, Zanoletti O, Grosse J, Guillot de Suduiraut I, Canto C, Sandi C. (2018)


Head of Laboratory: Prof. Carmen Sandi
Office : SV 2810
Phone : 41 21 693 9534

Administration: Barbara Goumaz
Office: SV 2805
Phone: 41 21 693 17 62

Mailing Address

SV 2805 (Bâtiment SV)
Station 19
CH-1015 Lausanne

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