Jimmy Stehberg, Ph.D.


JimmyJimmy Stehberg Liberman received his MSc degree from Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, working on the visceral representation of the thalamic reticular nucleus. After a short stay at the PhD programme of Ciencias Biomédicas from University of Chile, he moved to Israel to obtain his PhD at the Weizmann Institute of Science, under the supervision of Prof. Yadin Dudai. He did research primarily on the role of the insular cortex in taste learning and in the pharmacology of memory reconsolidation and extinction. Then he joined temporarily the lab of Dr. Abraham Zangen, also at the Weizmann Institute, where he performed research intended to erase aversive memories using intracranial electrical stimulation, and to participate in the development and trials of a coil capable of non-invasive deep brain stimulation using transcranial magnetic stimulation (the DeepTMS).

In 2005 he began a postdoc at UC Irvine, doing research at the Dr. Ron Frostig´s Lab, where he investigated somatosensory perception and functional anatomy of the cortex. Using electrophysiology, imaging and anatomical techniques they showed that a single sensory stimulus can elicit very large symmetrical activation spreads that centered at the corresponding primary cortex spread deeply into other primary cortices.

In March 2009 he joined UNAB and created the Neurobiology lab, which became functional by the end of that year. Its main objective is to characterize the mechanisms that control behavior, with particular emphasis on learning and memory, cognition and in the cognitive decline associated to neurological disorders, specially anxiety and depression.

The Lab is not only interested in understanding mechanisms, but also dedicated to the development of novel pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments for psychiatric and neurological disorders, including the use of the Innovative DeepTMS and the Invention and Development of several Patents developed through Collaborations with leading laboratories around the World.

Research Description

The lab is interested in the mechanisms that control cognition, with particular emphasis on learning and memory and in the cognitive decline associated to neurological and psychiatric disorders. The experimental approaches include clinical/non clinical human studies as well as the use of animal models for memory and psychiatric disorders.

The techniques mostly used are in vivo pharmacology, lesions, tract-tracing, molecular biology and biochemistry. Our current research themes include the effects of stress and stress hormones in the perception of usual-life events, and by which mechanisms such events can turn into phobias and traumas; the role of astrocytes in memory; the role of the immune system in memory; development of new pharmacological drugs for Depression and Anxiety-related disorders, and DeepTMS in depression, negative symptoms in Schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s cognitive decline as well as understanding memory reconsolidation in Humans.

The research performed at the Lab is mostly based on collaborations. We understand that current scientific advances require the integration of expertise in several fields. We collaborate with many Labs in Chile and around the World, and with several Medical research Groups, complementing each other`s interests with our expertise in behavior, pathology and pharmacology.

Key Publication

  1. Orellana, J.A., Retamal, M.A., Moraga-Amaro, R., Stehberg, J. (2016) Role of Astroglial Hemichannels and Pannexons in Memory and Neurodegenerative Diseases. Front. Integr. Neurosci. 10:26.
  1. Moraga-Amaro, R., González, H., Ugalde, V., Donoso-Ramos, J.P., Quintana-Donoso, D., Lara, M., Morales, B., Rojas, P., Pacheco, R., Stehberg, J. (2016) Dopamine receptor D5 deficiency results in a selective reduction of hippocampal NMDA receptor subunit NR2B expression and impaired memory. Neuropharmacology. 103:222-35.
  1. Rojas, S., Diaz-Galarce, R., Jerez-Baraona, J.M., Quintana-Donoso, D., Moraga-Amaro, R., Stehberg, J. (2015) The insula modulates arousal-induced reluctance to try novel tastes through adrenergic transmission in the rat. Front. Behav. Neurosci. 9:164.
  1. Torres, F., Villalon, E., Poblete, P., Moraga-Amaro, R., Linsambarth, S., Riquelme, R., Zangen, A., Stehberg, J. (2015) Retrospective Evaluation of Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation as Add-On Treatment for Parkinson’s Disease. Front. Neurol. 6:210. doi: 10.3389/fneur.2015.00210.
  1. Orellana, J.A., Moraga-Amaro, R., Díaz-Galarce, R., Rojas, S., Maturana, C.J., Stehberg, J., Sáez, J.C. (2015) Restraint stress increases hemichannel activity in hippocampal glial cells and neurons. Front. Cell. Neurosci. 9:102.