Research & Scientists | People | AJRODRIGUES


Name: Ana João Rodrigues

Office: G2.25

School Phone: +351 253 604 929

Email: ajrodrigues@med.uminho.pt




Keywords: reward dopamine nucleus accumbens D2 receptor mesolimbic circuit glucocorticoids prenatal stress optogenetics electrophysiology epigenetics


My research is focused in understanding what drives motivated behaviors and how the brain processes positive (and negative) stimuli, and the impact of stress in the underlying neuronal networks. 
I use a combination of behavioral, neuroanatomical, electrophysiology, molecular and optogenetic tools to dissect the neurobiological basis of reward and motivation.
How do circuits encode and process positive and negative stimuli (reward/aversion)?
What drives motivated behaviors?
Can early life stress/glucocorticoids program these circuits? How?

Selected Honors and prizes
2011   InEurope Grant, International Brain Research Organization
2012   Janssen Neurosciences Prize, 1st edition
2013   Best article in Neurobiology of Sistems & Behavior, Portuguese Society for Neurosciences
2013    FCT Investigator Position
2016    Bial Prize   


Long term impact of prenatal glucocorticoid exposure (Human study) (Leader) 

Reward circuit: from genes to neurons to behavior (Leader) 

Cumulative stress: the link between depression and dementia  

Impact of peripheral neuropathies on CNS function and structure  

Selected Publications

Rodrigues AJ, Leão P, Pêgo JM, Cardona D, Carvalho MM, Oliveira M, Costa BM, Carvalho AF, Morgado P, Araújo D, Palha JA, Almeida OF, Sousa N. Mechanisms of initiation and reversal of drug-seeking behavior induced by prenatal exposure to glucocorticoids. Mol Psychiatry. 2012 Dec;17(12):1295-305. doi: 10.1038/mp.2011.126.

Borges S, Coimbra B, Soares-Cunha C, Pego JM, Sousa N, Rodrigues AJ. Dopaminergic modulation of affective and social deficits induced by prenatal glucocorticoid exposure. Neuropsychopharmacology, 38(10):2068-79

Rodrigues AJ, Leão P, Carvalho M, Almeida OF, Sousa N. Potential programming of dopaminergic circuits by early life stress. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2011 Mar;214(1):107-20. doi: 10.1007/s00213-010-2085-3. Epub 2010 Nov 19.

Borges S, Coimbra B, Soares-Cunha C, Ventura-Silva P, Pinto L, Carvalho MM, Pego JM, Rodrigues AJ, Sousa N. Glucocorticoid programming of the mesopontine cholinergic system. Front Neuroendocr Sci, 4:190 (2013).

Soares-Cunha C, Coimbra B, Borges S, Carvalho MM, Rodrigues AJ*, Sousa N*. The motivational drive to natural rewards is modulated by prenatal glucocorticoid exposure. Transl Psychiatry, 4(6):e397 (2014).

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