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Claudio Da Cunha

Claudio Da Cunha


Profesor. Departamento de Farmacología, Universidade Federal do Paraná, Curitiba, Brazil.


Research grants, publications and others

Research Interests

The main goal of my research group is to understand how the basal ganglia learn to select motor actions that lead to rewarding outcomes or to avoiding aversive stimuli. We address these questions by using a wide range of behavioural, neurochemical, electrochemical, pharmacological, anatomical, and, most recently, electrophysiological techniques. Our main contributions to science were (1) the validation of a rat model of cognitive deficits observed in the early phase of Parkinson's disease, and (2) the proposal of the model of the Mosaic of Broken Mirrors.  This proposal works to explain how the basal ganglia encode motor actions directed to objects and the locomotion of the subject to specific places (Behav. Brain Res., 199:157, 2009). Understanding how the basal ganglia work is important to elucidate normal action-selection, reinforcement learning that leads to acquisition of procedural memories. Malfunctioning of this system is implicated in many neurological and psychiatric diseases such as Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), drug addition, schizophrenia, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Qualifications and Career

I had my graduation (Biology, UnB),  MSc (Molecular Biology, UnB), Ph.D. (Biochemistry, UFPR), and Livre Docente (Psychobilogy, UNIFESP) degrees in Brazil. My training in neuroscience was carried out as student, post-doc or visiting professor in the laboratories of the Professors Ivan Izquierdo (UFPR, Porto Alegre Brazil), Jorge Medina (Univesidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina), Jim McGaugh (UCI, USA), Susan Wonnacott (University of Bath, UK), and Charles D. Blaha (University of Memphis, TN, USA). Since 1992 I am full professor at the Universidade Federal do Paraná (UFPR, Curitiba, Paraná State, Brazil) where I teach neuropsychopharmacology and neuroscience and coordinate the research group named Laboratório de Fisiologia e Farmacologia do Sistema Nervoso Central. We keep strong collaborations with other neuroscience groups in South America, US, Scotland, and Germany.

Past and current positions

  -     Professor, Department of  Pharmacology, Universidade Federal do Paraná, Curitiba, Brazil 1992-present -     Researcher of the Brazilian National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq), Brazil 2002-2003 -     Treasurer of the Brazilian Society for Neuroscience and Behavior (SBNeC), Brazil 1995 -     Vice-chief of the Department of  Pharmacology, Universidade Federal do Paraná, Brazil 2006-2007 -     Chief of the Department of  Pharmacology, Universidade Federal do Paraná, Brazil  

Activities as invited researcher

1996 -     Post-doc,  Center for Neurobiology of Learning and  Memory, UCI, USA, Jim McGaugh’s lab 1998 -     Visiting Researcher, Experimental Epilepsy Research Laboratory, Univ. Federal de São Paulo, Brazil, Esper Cavalheiro’s lab 2002 -     Visiting Researcher, Wellcome Trust Fellowship, University of Bath, UK, Susan Wonnacott’s lab 2013 -     Visiting Professor, University of Memphis, UK, Charles Blaha’s lab