Instytut Biologii Doświadczalnej

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Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology, st. Ludwika Pasteura 3, 02-093 Warsaw


Research projects

Socially acquired information about the food localization and the brain representation of the space

Polish National Science Center 2018/31/N/NZ4/02853 PRELUDIUM 16 grant to: Mateusz Kostecki MSc

The project will allow gaining a detailed information about how animals share information about the localization of the food and how this information shapes their behaviour and the way they perceive their environment. It is especially important knowledge nowadays when the fragmentation of animal habitats, deforestation and climate change severely disturb animal’s access to information – groups of animals separated by roads or deforested patches are less efficient in finding food and may be more prone to extinction.

Funding: 202 000 PLN

Start date: 2019-07-11

End date: 2022-07-11


Status: Ongoing


CoSI Functional connectomics of the amygdala in social interactions of different valence

Project is carried out within the ERC Starting grant to Ewelina Knapska

The aim is to identify neural circuitry underlying social interactions of different emotional valence. This goal will be achieved by: (1) Characterizing functional anatomy of neuronal circuits in the amygdala underlying socially transferred emotions; (2) Examining role of the identified neuronal subpopulations in control of social behaviors; (3) Verifying role of matrix metalloproteinase-9-dependent neuronal subpopulations within the amygdala in social motivation.

Funding: 1 312 500 €

Start date: 2016-12-01

End date: 2021-11-30

Status: Ongoing


Social sharing of emotions in semi-natural settings of the Eco-HAB system

Polish National Science Center 2017/27/B/NZ4/02025 OPUS 14 grant to: dr Ewelina Knapska

We will model sharing of positive and negative emotions in mice living in a social group. To this end we will use a unique, naturalistic settings of Eco-HAB, the automated system allowing for automated measurement and analysis of social preference and social interactions in mice we have developed. Mouse models offer a unique opportunity to get insight into mechanisms of emotional contagion by manipulating neuronal activity, which is not possible in human studies for ethical reasons. To manipulate the neural circuits involved in emotional transfer we will use optogenetics and the fully implantable miniaturized optoelectronic device compatible with the Eco-HAB system we are developing. These will allow to remotely activate and thus characterize the function of neuronal circuits in the brain that control socially shared emotions.

Funding: 1 299 500 PLN

Start date: 2018-08-27

Length: 36 months

Status: Ongoing


Assessment of synaptic plasticity impairments within the amygdalar complex in mouse models of autism spectrum disorder

Polish National Science Center 2015/18/E/NZ4/00600 SONATA-BIS 5 to: dr Ksenia Meyza

To establish the role of neuronal plasticity within the amygdalar complex in the development of impaired social interactions in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) we will look for morphological evidence of impaired neuronal plasticity in the amygdalar complex of Fmr1KO mice, mice subjected to local manipulation of matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) level and the idiopathic mouse model of ASD, the BTBR T+ Itpr3tf/J mice and establish whether functional plasticity is impaired as a consequence of the morphological aberration.

Funding: 1 050 000 PLN

Start date: 2016-09-01

Length: 60 months

Status: Ongoing


Neural correlates of emotional contagion in humans

Polish National Science Center 2015/19/B/HS6/02209 OPUS 10 to: dr Ewelina Knapska

Funding: 999 400 PLN

Start date: 2016-06-27

Length: 36 months

Status: Ongoing


Social buffering effects in extinction of fear memory

Polish National Science Center 2015/17/D/NZ4/02910 SONATA 9 to: dr Tomasz Górkiewicz

The behavioral expressions of social buffering are relatively well recognized, but little is known on its neuronal underpinnings. Under laboratory conditions neuronal basis of social buffering can be investigated using appropriate rat models. Here I looked at neuronal basis of social modulation of fear and its extinction. Using this model I checked the modality of  information required for social buffering  and the involvement of different limbic brain structures in this phenomenon.

Funding: 526 000 PLN

Start date: 2016-02-12

Length: 36 months

Status: Concluded


Neuronal circuits in central amygdala underlying socially transferred fear

Polish National Science Center 2013/11/B/NZ3/01560 OPUS 6 to: dr Ewelina Knapska

Funding: 835 000 PLN

Start date: 2014-08-11

Length: 36 months

Status: Concluded


Extracellular matrix factors in the development of autism-like phenotype

Foundation for Polish Science HOMING PLUS/2012-6/6 grant to: dr Ksenia Meyza

The aim was to test the relationship between the abundance and activity of heparin sulfate (HS) and matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) and autism-like phenotype. To this end, we tested BTBR T+tf/J , c57BL/6J and BALBc mice prenatally exposed to valproic acid and MMP-9 WT and KO mice in a series of behavioral tests aimed at autism-relevant behaviors and correlate these results with MMP-9 activity and the abundance of heparan sulfate.


Funding: 324 000 PLN

Start date: 2013-05-01

End date: 2015-07-31

Status: Concluded


Validation of tissue- and age-specific therapeutic intervention on synaptopathies relevant to autism spectrum disorders

Polish-Swiss Research Cooperation PSPB 210/2010 grant to: dr Ewelina Knapska

The main goal of the project was to assess the feasibility of cellular-level therapies of autism. In two genetically modified mouse strains, serving as animal models for autism, the expression of the missing gene will be locally restored to verify whether pathological changes resulting from malfunctioning of synapses during development can be reversed this way.

Funding: 540 302 CHF

Start date: January 2012

End date: December 2014

Status: Concluded


Neuronal circuits underlying retrieval of fear memory after extinction

Polish National Science Center 2011/01/D/NZ3/02149 SONATA 1 grant to: dr Ewelina Knapska

The aim of this proposal is to elucidate the neuronal interactions between the amygdala, prefrontal cortex and hippocampus that underlie contextual retrieval of fear memory after extinction. This goal will be carried out by identifying and characterizing neurons within the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus that send projections to the amygdala (demonstrating their role in governing extinction and renewal of conditioned fear), localizing the recent and remote fear extinction memory traces for successful and impaired extinction (fear renewal, spontaneous recovery) and identifying the neural circuits underlying social modulation of conditioned fear extinction.

Funding: 882 000 PLN

Start date: 2011-12-07

Length: 60 months

Status: Concluded



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