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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).
I am an early-career behavioural neuroscientist studying the basic psychological and neural mechanisms underlying adaptive behaviour, using rodent models. Specifically, my research investigates how value is represented in the brain and how this value representation guides action and foodrelated behaviours. During my AgreenSkills fellowship, I focused my research on the role of the insula cortex in food-directed actions as well as taste learning and memory. Having completed five years of postdoctoral training, I am now a permanent researcher (Chargé de Recherche) at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) in the Institut de Neurosciences Cognitives et Intégratives d’Aquitaine (INCIA).
Parkes SL, Ravassard PM, Cerpa JC, Wolff M, Ferreira G, Coutureau E, 2017 Insular and ventrolateral orbitofrontal cortices differentially contribute to goal-directed behaviour in rodents. Cerebral Cortex. Doi: 10.1093/ cercor/bhx132.
Parkes SL, Marchand AR, Ferreira G, Coutureau E, 2016 A time course of satiety-induced instrumental outcome devaluation. Learn Behav. Doi: 10.3758/s13420-0160226-1.
Parkes SL, Ferreira G, Coutureau E, 2016. Acquisition of specific response-outcome associations requires NMDA receptor activation in the basolateral amygdala but not the insular cortex. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, 128: 40-45.
Parkes SL, Bradfield LA, Balleine BW, 2015 Interaction of insular cortex and ventral striatum mediates the effect of incentive memory on choice between goal-directed actions. The Journal of Neuroscience, 35: 6464-6471.
Parkes SL, De la Cruz V, Bermúdez-Rattoni F, Coutureau E, Ferreira G, 2014 Differential role of insular cortex muscarinic and NMDA receptors in one-trial appetitive taste learning. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory,116: 112-116.