Our laboratory studies how steroid hormones organize and activate the brain and behavior. This research mainly focuses on the action of testosterone and the products of its aromatization, estrogens, in the control of sexual and singing behavior using mainly Japanese quail, songbirds and more recently transgenic mice, as animal models.
One of our main research lines concerns the role of brain derived estrogens (neuroestrogens) in the control of male and female behaviors. In this context, we study the mode of regulation of estrogen synthesis, the site-specificity of estrogen synthesis and action and the modes of action of estrogens. Another aspect of our work concerns the mechanisms underlying the establishment by sex steroids of sex differences in brain and behavior notably exploring the interaction with the neuroimmune system. Finally, a substantial part of the work is dedicated to the analysis of the (neuro)endocrine controls of singing behavior in songbirds (oscines) and of the underlying neural plasticity including the perineuronal nets.
Recent work involved the characterization of the impact of impaired membrane estrogen signaling for the organization and activation of physiology and behavior taking advantage of a knock-out mouse model allowing to discriminate between the nuclear- and membrane-initiated signaling of estrogens. In this context we have also expanded our research program to the study of the central regulation of ovulation and fertility in general.