ERC project: Brain2Bee

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Brain2Bee: How dopamine affects social and

motor ability – from the human brain to the honey bee

January 2018 – January 2023 (ERC starting grant funded)

 

PDAutism and Parkinson’s Disease: Parkinson’s Disease is usually characterised by motor impairment, and Autism by social difficulties. However, the co-occurrence of social and motor symptoms is critically underappreciated; Parkinson’s Disease patients exhibit social symptoms, and motor difficulties are common in Autism. At present, the biological basis of co-occurring social and motor impairment is unclear. Notably, both Autism and Parkinson’s Disease have been associated with dopamine (DA) system abnormalities and, in non-clinical populations, DA has been linked with social and motor ability. Brain2Bee aims to combine these disparate strands of research in order to develop a model of the relationship between DA, Motor, and Social behaviour.

 

pharmaPsychopharmacology: Brain2Bee will use psychopharmacology in typical individuals to develop a model of the relationship between DA, Motor, and Social behaviour – the “DAMS” model.

 

genesGenes: Brain2Bee will use genetic analysis to refine DAMS, elucidating the contributions of DA-related biological processes (e.g. synthesis, receptor expression, reuptake). Brain2Bee will then test DAMS’ predictions in patients with Parkinson’s Disease and Autism. Thus clarifying whether, for example, dopamine-related genes confer risk for the development of social and motor difficulties in Autism.

 

beeHoney Bees: Brain2Bee will investigate whether DAMS generalises to an animal model, the honey bee, enabling future research to unpack the cascade of biological events linking DA-related genes with social and motor behaviour.