Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour
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Theme 3: Plasticity and Memory

Behavioural Neurogenetics

Donders-PLASTICITY-MEMORY-screen thema 3Our animal experimental research focuses on (serotonergic) genetic and environmental factors that influence brain development and behavioural traits. Interactions between these factors may lead to maladaptive emotional responses as seen in stress-related disorders and addiction, but also cognitive improvements, depending on environmental conditions.

It is our overarching hypothesis that the cognitive improvements can be used to offset the maladaptive emotional responses. To test this hypothesis we use unique mutant rats that model human genetic polymorphisms, including the serotonin transporter knockout rat. We also investigate the developmental role of serotonin in mediating the gene x environment interactions, for which we use prenatal antidepressant exposure as model.

Our main expertise is measuring basic and complex (translational) behaviours in rats, which we combine with invasive measurements, pharmacological manipulations, in vivo neurochemical measurements and neuroimaging, molecular genetic analyses,  and immunohistochemical assessments.

Name: Judith Homberg
Telephone: 024-3610906


Fax: 024-3610989
Visiting address:

Department of Cognitive Neuroscience
Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre
Trigon Building /route 205
Kapittelweg 29
6525 EN Nijmegen
The Netherlands

Postal address: Department of Cognitive Neuroscience
Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre
P.O. Box 9101 / 205
6500 HB Nijmegen
The Netherlands
  • Coordinator of Eranid Project "STANDUP", aiming to investigate the relationship between sensory processing sensitivity and drug addiction in humans and rats.
  • Partner in Era-net NEURON project "RESPOND" (RolE of Serotonin in the Pathogenesis Of Neurodevelopmental Disorders ):
  • Principal investigator of an EFRO project investigating the effect of early nutrition on healthy brain development
  • Principal investigator of a DCN project focusing on the role of myelination in depression using rat models
  • Principal investigator of a Science without Borders project aiming to develop a nanosystem to bring BDNF over the blood-brain barrier and to remediate depressive-like symptoms in rats.
  • Principal investigator of a KNAW China exchange project aiming to elucidate the role of serotonin-mediated neurodevelopment versus neurotransmission in vulnerability to depression
  • Principal investigator of a DCN project focusing on the role of maternal serotonergic genes on neurodevelopment of offspring in rats and humans
Key grants and prizes
  • 2013: European Behaviour and Neural Genetics Society (IBANGS) Young Scientist Award
  • 2012: Top reviewer of the Journal Neuropharmacology
  • 2011: European Behavioural Pharmacology Society (EBPS) Young Investigator Prize
  • 2011: Aspasia Award for highly qualified Women in Science
  • 2010: NWO VIDI grant
Key publications
  • Kroeze Y, Peeters D, Boulle F, van den Hove DL, van Bokhoven H, Zhou H, Homberg JR (2015) Long-term consequences of chronic fluoxetine exposure on the expression of myelination-related genes in the rat hippocampus. Transl Psychiatry. 2015 Sep 22;5:e642. doi: 10.1038/tp.2015.145.
  • Van der Doelen R, Kozicz T, Homberg JR (2013). Adaptive fitness: early life adversity improves adult stress coping in heterozygous serotonin transporter knockout rats, Molecular Psychiatry. 18(12):1244-5.
  • Nonkes LJP, de Pooter M, Homberg JR (2012). Behavioral therapy based on distraction alleviates impaired fear extinction in male serotonin transporter knockout rats. Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, 37(4):224-30.

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Theme 3:
Plasticity and Memory

Research Group
Behavioural Neurogenetics

Principal Investigator
Prof. J.R. Homberg, PhD

Group members
Assistant Professors / Associate Principal Investigators
Joanes Grandjean
Marloes Henckens:
(personal webpage)
(own research group page)

Archana Ashokan
Mina Sadighi
Michel Verheij

PhD students
Kari Bosch
Guo Chao
Bart Dirven
Sylvia Docq
Dewi van der Geugten
Sabrina Hanswijk
Maxine Houtekamer
Dorien Maas
Danielle Mendes
Alex Meng
Casper Wolf

Anthonieke Middelman