Fields of Research (FoR)Neurosciences, Behavioural neuroscience, Animal physiology - systems, Reinforcement learning, Biological psychology
Miriam obtained her PhD in Neuroscience from the University Pierre and Marie Curie (Paris) under the direction of Jean-Antoine Girault. She was awarded the EMBO Long-Term Fellowship to join the laboratory of Jürgen Götz at the University of Sydney and the University of Queensland where she studied age-related disorders of the basal ganglia circuitry. She then moved to the University of New South Wales where she established an independent...view more
Miriam obtained her PhD in Neuroscience from the University Pierre and Marie Curie (Paris) under the direction of Jean-Antoine Girault. She was awarded the EMBO Long-Term Fellowship to join the laboratory of Jürgen Götz at the University of Sydney and the University of Queensland where she studied age-related disorders of the basal ganglia circuitry. She then moved to the University of New South Wales where she established an independent line of research within the Decision Neuroscience Laboratory, for which she was awarded the 2020 Early Career Excellence Award from the Dean of Science (UNSW). Her research combines innovative high-throughput fluorescence microscopy and computational image analysis to understand how the functional architecture of the striatum encodes goal-directed learning and how its dysfunction impairs normal behaviour.
2021-2023 : ARC Discovery Project (Lead Invesigator) [DP210102700: $378,205]
2019-2021 : ARC Discovery Project (CI2) [DP190102511: $464,678]
2019-2021 : NHMRC New Investigator Project Grant (CIB) [APP1165990: $397,754.12]
2012 : Alzheimer's Australia Dementia Research Foundation (sole CI) [$50,000]
2011-2012 : Long-Term Postdoctoral Fellowship European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) [$150,000]
2009 : Ph. D. Neuroscience, Pierre and Marie Curie University, Paris, France
2007: Master in Biomedical Research, Pompeu Fabra University, Barcelona, Spain
2006 : Bachelor of Human Bioogy, Pompeu Fabra University, Barcelona, Spain
2020 : UNSW Dean of Science Early Career Excellence Award
2019 : UNSW's Vice-Chancellor's Childcare Support Fund for Women Researchers
2017 : Paxinos-Watson Award from the Australasian Neuroscience Society "to the most significant paper published by a Society member in 2016"
My Research Activities
Miriam co-leads, in partnership with Dr. Jay Bertran-Gonzalez, the group Neuromodulatory Systems and Behaviour (https://www.neuromodulab.org/) within the Decision Neuroscience Laboratory (https://www.decisioneurolab.com/).
Our team has a broad interest in Systems Neuroscience: we are particularly interested in studying how learning is encoded brain circuits, and how new behaviours that did not exist before imprint in neuronal circuits when they are generated, matured and adapted upon changes in environmental rules. We focus our studies on neuromodulatory systems (e.g. dopamine, acetylcholine, neuropeptides) supporting plasticity in subcortical brain networks (striatum, basal ganglia pathways), a central process for generating and modifying voluntary behaviours. We capitalise on animal learning theory, allowing us to design accurate behavioural paradigms that expose very specific forms of learning, and we deploy a series of quantitative fluorescence techniques as well as in vivo approaches to explore neuronal correspondence. Using mice as experimental model, the approach taken includes instrumental conditioning, AAV-based circuit- and cell-specific tracing and manipulation in behaving animals, in vivo photometry and computational analysis of behavioural and neuronal data. We are also interested in studying how these systems fail by modelling certain pathologies in mice such as age-associated motivational decline and behavioural control disorders.
My Research Supervision
Areas of supervision
I am available to supervise PhD, Honours and Master students. My students’ research projects aim to determine the neuronal processes by which actions are planned, executed and optimised. For this, we use mouse models of instrumental action and we take advantage of modern transgenic and microscopy technologies to visualise circuit activity in the brains of trained animals.
- Lecturer of the UNSW NEUR2201 Neuroscience Fundamentals course (Year 2 course, convenor: Andrew
Moorhouse). In this course, I teach about the fundamentals of subcortical circuit anatomy and the basics of
dopamine modulation in striatal neurons.
- Invited Faculty at the 2021 Australasian Course in Advance Neuroscience (System Neurosciences).