• Principal Investigator
  • Male

I. Willuhn PhD

Position: Associate professor (UHD)
Main activities: Research
Specialisation: Behavioral Neuroscience
foto I. Willuhn is one of the AMC Principal Investigators
Focus of research:

I am a behavioral neuroscientist with a background in functional anatomy. I am interested in how our brain controls behavior and how we lose control. My scientific focus lies on how release of the neurotransmitter dopamine (and other neuromodulators) regulates cortico-basal ganglia networks under normal (e.g., reward learning), as well as pathological conditions (e.g., OCD, drug addiction). 

My reserach group studies how the brain produces automatic and habitual actions, and how dysregulation of such actions may contribute to compulsive behavior, a common denominator to several neuro-psychiatric disorders such as OCD, addictions, and eating disorders. Compulsive behavior may be constituted by the dysregulation of individual behavioral functions (components), such as cognitive flexibility and habit formation. We study compulsive behavior itself and a variety of its presumed components in rodents, while neural measurements and interventions are performed using state-of-the-art methodology. Long term, our research is intended to lead to novel insights that improve psychiatric therapy.  

AMC themes: Neurological & Psychiatric Disorders
Departments: Psychiatry: Adult Psychiatry
Burgeno LM. Diametric Changes in Ventral Striatal Dopamine Release Regulate Drug-Taking and Drug-Seeking Behavior. S.l.: s.n.; 2017. 158p. Proefschrift University of Washington (Seattle, WA, USA), Department of Pharmacology. (Promotor(s): Philips PEM; copromotor(s): Willuhn I)
Klanker M, Feenstra M, Willuhn I, Denys D, DEEP BRAIN STIMULATION OF THE MEDIAL FOREBRAIN BUNDLE ELEVATES STRIATAL DOPAMINE CONCENTRATION WITHOUT AFFECTING SPONTANEOUS OR REWARD-INDUCED PHASIC RELEASE. NEUROSCIENCE 2017;364:82-92 [PubMed]
Klanker M, Fellinger L, Feenstra M, Willuhn I, Denys D, Regionally distinct phasic dopamine release patterns in the striatum during reversal learning. NEUROSCIENCE 2017;345:110-123 [PubMed]
van den Boom BJG, Pavlidi P, Wolf CMH, Mooij HAH, Willuhn I, Automated classification of self-grooming in mice using open-source software. J NEUROSCI METH 2017;289:48-56 [PubMed]
Figee M, Pattij T, Willuhn I, Luigjes J, van den Brink W, Goudriaan A, Potenza MN, Robbins TW, Denys D, Compulsivity in obsessive-compulsive disorder and addictions. EUR NEUROPSYCHOPHARM 2016;26 (5):856-868 [PubMed]
Klanker M. Neuromodulation in corticostriatal circuits: On deep brain stimulation and dopamine. S.l.: s.n.; 2016. 182p. ISBN 978-94-028-0170-5 [UvA Dissertations Online] Proefschrift Universiteit van Amsterdam. (Promotor(s): Denys DAJP; copromotor(s): Feenstra MGP, Willuhn I)
Groblewski PA, Zietz C, Willuhn I, Phillips PEM, Chavkin C, Repeated stress exposure causes strain-dependent shifts in the behavioral economics of cocaine in rats. ADDICT BIOL 2015;20 (2):297-301 [PubMed]
Klanker M, Sandberg T, Joosten R, Willuhn I, Feenstra M, Denys D, Phasic dopamine release induced by positive feedback predicts individual differences in reversal learning. NEUROBIOL LEARN MEM 2015;125:135-145 [PubMed]
Willuhn I, Burgeno LM, Groblewski PA, Phillips PEM, Excessive cocaine use results from decreased phasic dopamine signaling in the striatum. NAT NEUROSCI 2014;17 (5):704-709 [PubMed]
Willuhn I, Tose A, Wanat MJ, Hart AS, Hollon NG, Phillips PEM, Schwarting RKW, Wöhr M, Phasic dopamine release in the nucleus accumbens in response to pro-social 50 kHz ultrasonic vocalizations in rats. J NEUROSCI 2014;34 (32):10616-10623 [PubMed]
Willuhn I, Burgeno LM, Everitt BJ, Phillips PEM, Hierarchical recruitment of phasic dopamine signaling in the striatum during the progression of cocaine use. P NATL ACAD SCI USA 2012;109 (50):20703-20708 [PubMed]
Flagel SB, Clark JJ, Robinson TE, Mayo L, Czuj A, Willuhn I, Akers CA, Clinton SM, Phillips PEM, Akil H, A selective role for dopamine in stimulus-reward learning. NATURE 2011;469 (7328):53-57 [PubMed]
Clark JJ, Sandberg SG, Wanat MJ, Gan JO, Horne EA, Hart AS, Akers CA, Parker JG, Willuhn I, Martinez V, Evans SB, Stella N, Phillips PEM, Chronic microsensors for longitudinal, subsecond dopamine detection in behaving animals. NAT METHODS 2010;7 (2):126-129 [PubMed]
Ondracek JM, Willuhn I, Steiner H, West AR, Interactions between Procedural Learning and Cocaine Exposure Alter Spontaneous and Cortically Evoked Spike Activity in the Dorsal Striatum. FRONT NEUROSCI-SWITZ 2010;4:206 [PubMed]
Willuhn I, Wanat MJ, Clark JJ, Phillips PEM, Dopamine signaling in the nucleus accumbens of animals self-administering drugs of abuse. CURR TOP BEHAV NEUROSCI 2010;3:29-71 [PubMed]
Unal CT, Beverley JA, Willuhn I, Steiner H, Long-lasting dysregulation of gene expression in corticostriatal circuits after repeated cocaine treatment in adult rats: effects on zif 268 and homer 1a. EUR J NEUROSCI 2009;29 (8):1615-1626 [PubMed]
Wanat MJ, Willuhn I, Clark JJ, Phillips PEM, Phasic dopamine release in appetitive behaviors and drug addiction. CURR DRUG ABUSE REV 2009;2 (2):195-213 [PubMed]
Willuhn I, Steiner H, Skill-memory consolidation in the striatum: critical for late but not early long-term memory and stabilized by cocaine. BEHAV BRAIN RES 2009;199 (1):103-107 [PubMed]
Tropea TF, Guerriero RM, Willuhn I, Unterwald EM, Ehrlich ME, Steiner H, Kosofsky BE, Augmented D1 dopamine receptor signaling and immediate-early gene induction in adult striatum after prenatal cocaine. BIOL PSYCHIAT 2008;63 (11):1066-1074 [PubMed]
Willuhn I, Steiner H, Motor-skill learning in a novel running-wheel task is dependent on D1 dopamine receptors in the striatum. NEUROSCIENCE 2008;153 (1):249-258 [PubMed]
Topic B, Willuhn I, Palomero-Gallagher N, Zilles K, Huston JP, Hasenöhrl RU, Impaired maze performance in aged rats is accompanied by increased density of NMDA, 5-HT1A, and alpha-adrenoceptor binding in hippocampus. HIPPOCAMPUS 2007;17 (1):68-77 [PubMed]
Willuhn I, Steiner H, Motor-skill learning-associated gene regulation in the striatum: effects of cocaine. NEUROPSYCHOPHARMACOL 2006;31 (12):2669-2682 [PubMed]
Willuhn I, Sun W, Steiner H, Topography of cocaine-induced gene regulation in the rat striatum: relationship to cortical inputs and role of behavioural context. EUR J NEUROSCI 2003;17 (5):1053-1066 [PubMed]
Key publications

Willuhn I, Burgeno LM, Groblewski PA, Phillips PEM, Excessive cocaine use results from decreased phasic dopamine signaling in the striatum. NAT NEUROSCI 2014;17 (5):704-709 [PubMed]
Willuhn I, Burgeno LM, Everitt BJ, Phillips PEM, Hierarchical recruitment of phasic dopamine signaling in the striatum during the progression of cocaine use. P NATL ACAD SCI USA 2012;109 (50):20703-20708 [PubMed]
Willuhn I, Tose A, Wanat MJ, Hart AS, Hollon NG, Phillips PEM, Schwarting RKW, Wöhr M, Phasic dopamine release in the nucleus accumbens in response to pro-social 50 kHz ultrasonic vocalizations in rats. J NEUROSCI 2014;34 (32):10616-10623 [PubMed]
Flagel SB, Clark JJ, Robinson TE, Mayo L, Czuj A, Willuhn I, Akers CA, Clinton SM, Phillips PEM, Akil H, A selective role for dopamine in stimulus-reward learning. NATURE 2011;469 (7328):53-57 [PubMed]
Clark JJ, Sandberg SG, Wanat MJ, Gan JO, Horne EA, Hart AS, Akers CA, Parker JG, Willuhn I, Martinez V, Evans SB, Stella N, Phillips PEM, Chronic microsensors for longitudinal, subsecond dopamine detection in behaving animals. NAT METHODS 2010;7 (2):126-129 [PubMed]


All Publications

Curriculum Vitae

EDUCATION

2001-2007   Doctoral dissertation, Department of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology, Rosalind Franklin University/The Chicago Medical School, Chicago, IL, USA

1996-2001   Diploma in Physiological Psychology (equiv. M.Sc.) at Heinrich-Heine University of Düsseldorf, Germany

 

RESEARCH EXPERIENCE

2015-present   Universitair hoofddocent (UHD), Associate Professor, Academic Medical Center (AMC)

2015-present   Group leader, Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience (NIN), Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW)

2015-present   Principal Investigator, Academic Medical Center (AMC)

2014-present   Universitair docent (UD), Assistant Professor, Academic Medical Center (AMC)

2014-2015   Senior scientist, Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience (NIN), Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW)

2010-2013   Scientific advisor of the Behavioral Core Facility for Drug Addiction Research at the University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA

2008-2013   Postdoctoral research, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA

2001-2007   Dissertation research, Rosalind Franklin University/The Chicago Medical School, North Chicago, IL, USA

2000-2001   Diploma (MSc) thesis research, Heinrich-Heine University of Düsseldorf, Germany

 

Research programmes

The neurocircuitry of compulsive behavior

My reserach group studies how the brain produces automatic and habitual actions, and how dysregulation of such actions may contribute to compulsive behavior. Compulsive behavior is believed to be a central common denominator to several neuro-psychiatric disorders such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), addictions, and eating disorders. Compulsive behavior is likely constituted by the dysregulation of individual behavioral functions (components), such as cognitive inflexibility, and it is aggravated by stress and anxiety, whereby it is hypothesized that aberrant habit formation is crucial for its development. The main objective of my research program is to provide a better understanding of the underlying neurobiological mechanisms of compulsive behavior. In order to do so, compulsive behavior itself and a variety of its presumed components is studied in rodents, while neural measurements and interventions are performed using state-of-the-art methodology. Neural measurements are collected in vivo using electrophysiology, fast-scan cyclic voltammetry, calcium imaging, microdialysis, and fMRI, whereas in vivo interventions include deep-brain stimulation, chemogenetics, optogenetics, and pharmacological treatments. My research is intended to lead to novel insights that may tie psychiatric diseases together that are now often studied and treated separately, and to pave the way to define and treat conditions that are common to OCD, addictions, and eating disorders.

Faculty
I. Willuhn PhD (NIN)

Postdocs
T. Arbab MSc
R. Faust PhD
P. Warnaar

PhD Students
Drs. B.J.G. van den Boom (NIN)
M. Derksen (NIN)
I. Ehmer MSc (NIN)
W. van Elzelingen
J.N. Goedhoop
L.M. Burgeno BA (University of Washington, Seattle, USA)

Others
R. Hamelink
N. Yee PhD (Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience)

Prof. dr. D.A.J.P. Denys (Deep Brain Stimulation and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders)

Other research related activities
  • None reported
Current research funding
  • AMC (Vrijgesteld)
  • Europese Unie
  • NWO
  • Universiteit van Amsterdam-ABC