General research interests and goals:
The research topic of the group focuses on the the impact of adolescence and related neurodevelopmental processes on the heightened susceptibility for mental health disorders. Adolescence and puberty are highly important periods for postnatal brain maturation. Drastic changes of neuronal architecture and function are occurring during adolescence which concomitantly lead to distinct behavioral alterations. Considering the multitude of ongoing neurodevelopmental processes in an adolescent brain, it is not surprising that most adult neuropsychiatric disorders have their roots exactly during this time span. Adolescence and puberty are therefore crucial developmental periods in terms of understanding causes and mechanisms of adult mental health illness. Profound developmental changes have been reported in particular for the endocannabinoid (ECB) system during puberty. With our research we were aiming to further clarify the detailed development of the ECB system during puberty and adolescence in rodents, and to characterize specific developmental effects of cannabinoids and other drugs of abuse (e.g. Ethanol) on reward processing, social skills and cognitive performance.