The world around us is constantly changing and bombarding us with a wealth of stimuli. Many of those stimuli signal potential behaviours to engage in, but behaviour that is appropriate in one situation is not necessarily the best choice in another context. Cues in our surroundings can help us respond in an appropriate way.
Successful interaction with our environment thus requires the use of cues and the ability to flexibly adapt our behavior when the environment changes. Deficits in such flexible adaptation is the hallmark of many psychiatric disorders — in particular, schizophrenia, which is one of the most debilitating aspects of the disease.
Dr. Mieke van Holstein’s research is aimed at assessing the role of two neurotransmitter systems (dopamine and GABA) that play an important role both in the etiology of schizophrenia and in flexible behavior. Understanding how the normal brain solves tasks that requires flexibility provides important insight into brain dysfunction that may underlie impairments in these processes, as observed in schizophrenia. The ultimate goal is to develop a novel model that may be used to test promising new treatments for the cognitive deficits observed in this disease.
For an up-to-date list of publications by Dr. van Holstein, please see Google Scholar.