Integrative Behavioral Biology
The group main research interest is the integrative study of social behaviour, which combines the study of proximate causes (gene modules, hormones, neural circuits, cognitive processes) and ultimate effects (evolutionary consequences). In particular, the research group aim to understand how brain and behaviour can be shaped by the social environment and how the cognitive, neural and genetic mechanisms underlying plasticity in the expression of social behaviour have evolved.
Current research questions topics:
- Evolution of social cognition and of its neuromolecular mechanisms – we aim to understand if social cognition is an organismal performance trait that impacts Darwinian fitness and may itself be subject to selection;
- Genomic and epigenomic mechanisms of social behaviour – we seek to understand how the same genome can produce different social phenotypes in response to key social cues in the environment;
- Neuroendocrinology of social behaviour – we aim to understand the role of hormones and neuropeptides (oxytocin/vasotocin) as neuromodulators involved in the plasticity of social behaviour;
- Fish cognition and welfare – since our model organisms are fish we aim to use our knowledge in this field to improve fish husbandry and handling procedures towards better research and animal welfare.
Neural mechanisms of cognitive bias
The stress response is an adaptive mechanism for the organism to cope with challenging situations (stressors).
Behavioural and evolutionary ecology of social cognition
The social environment is a major selective force in the evolution of brain, cognition and behaviour.
- Wircer, E., Blechman, J., Borodovsky, N., Tsoory, M., Nunes, A.R., Oliveira, R.F.,Levkowitz, G. (2017) Homeodomain protein Otp affects developmental neuropeptide switching in oxytocin neurons associated with a long-term effect on social behaviour. eLife 6 : e22170
- Faustino, A.I., Tacão-Monteiro, A., Oliveira, R.F. (2017) Mechanisms of social buffering of fear in zebrafish. Sci Rep. 7 : 44329
- Oliveira, R.F., Simões, J.M., Teles, M.C., Oliveira, C.R., Becker, J.D., Lopes, J.S. (2016) Assessment of fight outcome is needed to activate socially driven transcriptional changes in the zebrafish brain. Proc Nat Acad Sci U.S.A. 113 : E654-661
- Teles, M.C., Almeida, O., Lopes, J.S., Oliveira, R.F. (2015) Social interactions elicit rapid shifts in functional connectivity in the social decision-making network of zebrafish. Proc R Soc B 282 : 20151099
- Abril-de-Abreu, R., Cruz, J., Oliveira, R.F. (2015) Social eavesdropping in zebrafish: tuning of attention to social interactions. Sci Rep. 5 : 12678
- Simões, J.M., Barata, E.N., Harris, R.M., O’Connell, L.A., Hofmann, H.A., Oliveira, R.F. (2015) Social odors conveying dominance and reproductive information induce rapid physiological and neuromolecular changes in a cichlid fish. BMC Genomics 16 : 114
- Taborsky, B., Oliveira, R.F. (2012) Social competence: an evolutionary approach.Trends Ecol Evol. 27 : 679-688
- Soares, M.C., Oliveira, R.F., Ros, A.F.H., Grutter, A.S., Bshary, R. (2011) Tactile stimulation lowers stress in fish. Nat Comm 2(534) : 1-4
- Antunes, R.A., Oliveira, R.F. (2009) Hormonal anticipation of territorial challenges in cichlid fish. Proc Nat Acad Sci U.S.A. 106 : 15985-15989
- Oliveira, R.F., Carneiro, L.A., Canário, A.V.M. (2005) No hormonal response in tied fights. Nature 437 : 207-208
Rui Oliveira, Principal Investigator
PhD in Biology, Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal
Phone: +351 214 464 531
E- mail: [email protected]