Shauna Parkes

Shauna Parkes

AgreenSkills session, year: 2nd session, 2013

Receiving laboratory: NutriNeuro Nutrition and integrated neurobiology Bordeaux Aquitaine, France

Country of origin : Australia




Mobility project

Interactions between prefrontal cortical regions of the rat brain in food-oriented behaviors

The ability to acquire and exert control over food-related behaviour is a fundamental process. Recent data indicates that some basic aspects of such behaviour can readily be studied in instrumental conditioning paradigms in rodents.  Like humans, rodent actions are sensitive to changes in both the nutritive value of the food outcome as well as changes in the causal consequences of their actions. Indeed, both rats and humans will stop responding if a food is devalued or if an action no longer delivers food. Despite much research into the physiological systems that mediate general learning processes, the neural basis of food-seeking behaviours remains poorly understood. Traditionally, limbic circuitry has been implicated in the motivational processes that control food ingestion and pursuit. However, more recent evidence suggests a role for a number of cortical regions in both the acquisition of food-seeking behaviours as well as the retrieval of the current nutritive value of the food outcome. Importantly, relatively little is known about the role of cortico-cortical or cortico-limbic interactions in food-related behaviours. My project will examine in detail the role of such interactions in food-oriented behaviour. Specifically, using advanced techniques of functional neuroanatomy, we aim to investigate the relationship between prefrontal regions of the rat brain, including the prelimbic cortex and insular cortex, and the basolateral amygdala in the acquisition and performance of food-related actions. The project involves close collaboration with Dr Etienne Coutureau (team leader Neurobiology of Executive Functions, CNRS, Université de Bordeaux).

Biography & research interests

My research interest is Behavioural Neuroscience, specifically in the neural substrates underlying adaptive behaviours. I obtained my undergraduate degree in Psychology from the University of New South Wales (Sydney, Australia) and was awarded a competitive scholarship to undertake my PhD. My PhD research was supervised by Professor Fred Westbrook and examined the role of the amygdala and glutamate receptors in aversive learning and memory. During my postdoctoral appointment, under the supervision of Professor Bernard Balleine at the Brain and Mind Research Institute (University of Sydney, Australia), my research focused on the neural bases of appetitive adaptive behaviours. Specifically, I investigated the neural circuitry mediating food-seeking behaviours using an ecologically valid rodent model.

Selected publications

Holmes NM, Parkes SL, Killcross S, Westbrook RF (2013) The basolateral amygdala is critical for learning about neutral stimuli in the presence of danger and the perirhinal cortex is critical in the absence of danger. The Journal of Neuroscience, 33, 13112 – 13125.

Parkes SL, Balleine BW (2013) Incentive memory: Evidence the basolateral amygdala encodes and the insular cortex retrieves outcome value to guide choice between goal-directed actions. The Journal of Neuroscience, 33, 8753 – 8763.

Parkes SL, Westbrook RF (2011) Role of the basolateral amygdala and NMDA receptors in higher-order conditioned fear. Reviews in the Neurosciences, 22, 317-333.

Parkes SL, Westbrook RF (2010) The basolateral amygdala is critical for the acquisition and extinction of associations between a neutral stimulus and a learned danger signal but not between two neutral stimuli. The Journal of Neuroscience, 30, 12608 – 12618.

Martire SI, Parkes SL, Westbrook RF (2010) The effects of FG 7142 on sensory-specific satiety in rats. Behavioural Brain Research, 209, 131-136.



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