Dr. Do Monte received his bachelor’s degree in veterinary medicine from Universidade do Estado de Santa Catarina in Brazil (2002), and his master’s and PhD degrees (general pharmacology and neuropharmacology) from Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina in Brazil, under the mentorship of Dr. Antônio P. Carobrez. His master dissertation was directed to understand the mechanisms involved in the expression of both innate and learned fear memories (2006). His doctorate thesis was focused on elucidating the noradrenergic mechanisms mediating the extinction and reconsolidation of aversive memories (2010). As a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Gregory Quirk’s laboratory in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Puerto Rico, Dr. Do Monte investigated the neural circuits regulating the retrieval of fear memories and the crucial role of the passage of time in the reorganization of these memories. During his postdoctoral training, he was awarded the prestigious “NIH pathway to independence award (K99/R00)” from the National Institute of Mental Health. Dr. Do Monte became an Assistant Professor in the McGovern Medical School at UTH in 2016, where he has recently been awarded a Rising STARs Award from the UT System.
The Do Monte Lab focuses on understanding the neural circuits and mechanisms underlying emotional memories. We are particularly interested in elucidating how fear- and reward-associated memories interact to generate the most adaptive behavioral responses. Using a multidisciplinary approach in rats, we combine optogenetic, in vivo electrophysiological recording, pharmacological, immunohistochemical, and imaging techniques to investigate the mechanisms involved in balancing fear and reward stimuli, with emphasis on the innate defensive responses induced by predator cues.
The mammalian brain has an exceptional ability to associate aversive and rewarding stimuli with environmental cues. The correct discrimination between harmful and beneficial stimuli allows an organism to select the most appropriate response, thereby protecting it from danger. In humans, inappropriate retrieval of reward associated memories is the framework for substance abuse, whereas inappropriate retrieval of fear/aversive memories can lead to the development of anxiety disorders. Understanding the neural circuits mediating the integration of fear- and reward-associated memories may uncover more effective therapies for patients suffering from both anxiety and substance-related addictive disorders.