Bárbara Coimbra

  • Motivation
  • Reward
  • Addiction
  • Drugs of abuse
  • LDT
  • Nac
  • Circuits Neuroscience
  • Large-scale eletrophysiology
  • Optogenetics
  • Imaging

I am a PhD researcher at the ICVS, University of Minho in Portugal with a background in Biology and a Masters and PhD in Health Sciences.
My main research focus in the study of the role of the laterodorsal tegmentum (LDT) in motivation and reward processes in natural conditions (place and food seeking/preferences or avoidance behaviors) and in context of disease (as depression or drug addiction). I am studying LDT projections and its integration in neuronal networks related with motivation/reward through the combination of behavioral, neurochemical, electrophysiological, optogenetic, imaging and molecular biology correlates.
I published several papers as first author, in peer-reviewed scientific journals with a high impact factor and have published several others as co-author as a result of collaborations with colleagues and other research groups. I supervise master and undergraduate students. In addition, I actively participate as teaching staff in several post-graduate and advanced courses, outreach activities to the general public by volunteering in the “brain awareness week”, “Open Laboratories” and “Summer in Campus” at the University of Minho.

Scientific Highlights

Projects as PI:
“REMIND – PTDC/SAU-TOX/6802/2020: Defining how cocaine alters laterodorsal tegmentum to nucleus accumbens inputs and relevance for the development of natural reward deficits”; Principal Investigator; Funding agency: FCT; Budget: 226.350,00€ (2021-2024)”

Publications as 1st author
Coimbra B, Domingues AV, Soares-Cunha C, Correia R, Pinto L, Sousa N, Rodrigues AJ. Laterodorsal tegmentum-ventral tegmental area projections encode positive reinforcement signals. Journal of Neuroscience Research. 2020

Coimbra B, Soares-Cunha C; Vasconcelos, NAP; Domingues, A. V; Sousa, N; Rodrigues, A. J. Role of laterodorsal tegmentum projections to nucleus accumbens in reward-related behaviors. Nature Communications. 2019, 10(1):4138.

Coimbra B, Soares-Cunha C, Borges S, Vasconcelos NAP, Sousa N, Rodrigues AJ. Impairments in laterodorsal tegmentum to VTA projections underlie glucocorticoid-triggered reward deficits. eLife. 2017, 6:e25843.

Coimbra B, Borges S, Soares-Cunha C, Pêgo JM, Sousa N and Rodrigues AJ. Dopaminergic Modulation of Affective and Social Deficits Induced by Prenatal Glucocorticoid Exposure. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2013, 38(10): 2068-79. 2013.

Awards and Honors:
2014-2018 – PhD Fellowship, granted by Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (FCT; SFRH/BD/98675/2013)
2016 – Travel Grant to attend FENS, granted by SPN
2017 – Travel award to attend ECNP, granted by ECNP 2017 – Best poster award, granted by ECNP
2017 – Travel award to attend ISN, granted by ISN
2018 – FENS/IBRO travel grant to attend FENS, granted by IBRO, 2018
2020 – Publication in a peer-reviewed journal with the best Impact factor in the Neuroscience Research Domain, ICVS 2020 – Scientific Employment Stimulus FCT Individual Call, FCT


Brainstem orchestration of cue-reward associations

The brain constantly integrates new sensory information, and associates environmental cues to outcomes, adjusting behavior to maximize reward and minimize unpleasant consequences. This process is critical for survival, and its dysregulation is a hallmark of…

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Sensory signals of associative learning

Through evolution, animals gained the remarkable ability to respond with sub second precision to environmental stimuli and to learn to associate those with positive or negative outcomes…

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