Meye lab

The neural circuits underlying stress eating

Our research focuses on afflictions of the nervous system in which reward seeking plays a key role, such as disorders of binge eating (ravenous intake of a lot of food in a short period of time) and drug addiction. These are prevalent problems that unfortunately can have very negative outcomes for those affected, as treatment options are often inadequate.

A particularly problematic feature of these conditions is their ‘relapsing’ nature. Patients can temporarily suppress undesirable behavior (e.g. the binge-eating), but unfortunately tend to remain vulnerable to triggers in the environment that rekindle it. Stressful events in particular can be potent triggers in this regard (i.e. causing stress eating of ‘comfort foods’).

One of the main goals of the lab is to understand how stressful events manage to have such a strong influence on reward systems of the brain to promote the intake of (food) rewards. To this end we perform research in rodents, who share with humans the evolutionarily conserved neural systems responsible for integrating information about stress and rewards. We strive to use the insights we obtain to devise intervention strategies to counteract dysfunctional brain circuit plasticity and excessive reward seeking.

Dr. Frank Meye

Likes binge-eating, reward seeking, comfort foods and relapse, absolutely loves stress.

Group members

Louisa Linders – PhD candidate
My research focuses on unraveling Ventral Tegmental Area dopamine circuits involved in stress eating.
Ex vivo electrophysiology; patch clamp, (in vivo) optogenetics, local drug infusion.

Ioannis Koutlas – PhD candidate
My research aims at understanding how neuronal ensembles in the ventral tegmental area integrate information arising from aversive and rewarding experiences.

Behavior, chemo- and optogenetics, fiber photometry

Laura Supiot – PhD candidate
My research aims to define how the cortical control over feeding centers is altered by stress.

In vitro electrophysiology, optogenetics.

Dr. Danai Riga – Postdoc
My research focuses on endogenous stress-protective systems. In particular, I investigate how Neuropeptide Y curbs the stress response to prevent stress-induced anxiety.

Slice electrophysiology, in vivo opto- / chemo-genetics, microscopy

Dr. Evelien Schut – Postdoc
I am interested in how dopamine-sensitive cortical pathways contribute to impulsive behavior and how stress affects these systems.

Fiber photometry, DREADDs, pharmacology

Janna Smeets – Postdoc
I am focuses on understanding cortical control over feeding systems.

Patch-clamp electrophysiology

Dr. Rogier Poorthuis – Marie-Curie fellow
My research is aimed at delineating how prefrontal cortical microcircuits regulate food intake and how this system is affected by stress.

In vivo electrophysiology, optogenetics, neural tracing

Lefkothea Patrikiou – Research assistent
I am investigating neural circuits of stress responses.

Fiber photometry

Recent papers

  1. Shifted pallidal co-release of GABA and glutamate in habenula drives cocaine withdrawal and relapse. Meye FJ, Soiza-Reilly M, Smit T, Diana MA, Schwarz MK, Mameli M. Nat Neurosci. 2016 Aug;19(8):1019-24. doi: 10.1038/nn.4334. Epub 2016 Jun 27. PMID: 27348214
  2. Cocaine-evoked negative symptoms require AMPA receptor trafficking in the lateral habenula. Meye FJ, Valentinova K, Lecca S, Marion-Poll L, Maroteaux MJ, Musardo S, Moutkine I, Gardoni F, Huganir RL, Georges F, Mameli M. Nat Neurosci. 2015 Mar;18(3):376-8. doi: 10.1038/nn.3923. Epub 2015 Feb 2. PMID: 25643299