The cognitive control of behavior, including the selection and execution of goal-directed actions, is a highly heritable trait and a major determinant of our health and well-being. Alterations in cognitive control are shared common features of different psychiatric and neurodevelopmental disorders such as schizophrenia, autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and bipolar disorder. Notably, cognitive deficits in these disorders are currently considered the main source of disability, having the most critical impact on the daily life of the patients and their relatives, on public health and long-term outcomes.
Our first scientific effort is to develop effective preclinical tools to study higher-order cognitive abilities with high translational validity from/to humans, while taking advantage of the outstanding advanced molecular and mechanistic tools available for mice. Importantly, we are interested in how cognitive functions change in males and females throughout development. The domains we are most focused on: working memory, attentional control, executive functions and flexibility.