Jimmy Stehberg, Ph.D.



Jimmy 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. He then 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 via horizontal axons.

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, and in brain mechanisms associated to psychiatric disorders, especially in 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 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 higher brain function, and how their dysfunction leads to 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 at the Lab are in vivo pharmacology, DREADDS, molecular biology, and biochemistry. Our current research themes include the effects of stress and stress hormones in the perception of usual-life events and anxiety; the role of astrocytes in memory and psychiatric disorders; drug discovery and the development of new pharmacological targets for Depression, anxiety and Anxiety-related disorders; and novel uses of DeepTMS in psychiatric and neurological disorders.

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.

Key Publication

    1. Linsambarth S, Carvajal FJ, Moraga-Amaro R, Mendez L, Tamburini G, Jimenez I, Verdugo DA, Gómez GI, Jury N, Martínez P, van Zundert B, Varela-Nallar L, Retamal MA, Martin C, Altenberg GA, Fiori MC, Cerpa W, Orellana JA, Stehberg J (2022). Astroglial gliotransmitters released via Cx43 hemichannels regulate NMDAR-dependent transmission and short-term fear memory in the basolateral amygdala. FASEB J. 2022. Feb;36(2):e22134.
    2. Méndez-Ruette M, Linsambarth S, Moraga-Amaro R, Quintana D, Méndez L, Tamburini G, Cornejo F, Torres RF, Stehberg J (2019). The role of the rodent Insula in Anxiety. Frontiers in Physiology. Front. Physiol., 29 March.
    3. Linsambarth S, Jeria A, Avirame K, Todder D, Riquelme R, Stehberg J (2019). Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation for the Treatment of Negative Symptoms in Schizophrenia: Beyond an Antidepressant Effect.J ECT. 2019 Dec;35(4):e46-e54.
    4. Moraga-Amaro R, González H, Ugalde V, Donoso-Ramos JP, 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.
    5. Rojas S, Diaz-Galarce R, Jerez-Baraona JM, 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.
    6. 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.
    1. Orellana JA, Moraga-Amaro R, Díaz-Galarce R, Rojas S, Maturana CJ, Stehberg J, Sáez JC (2015). Restraint stress increases hemichannel activity in hippocampal glial cells and neurons. Front. Cell. Neurosci. 9:102.
    2. Orellana JA and Stehberg J (2014). Hemichannels: new roles in astroglial function. Frontiers in Physiology. Jun 17;5:193.
    3. Stehberg J, Dang PT, Frostig RD (2014). Unimodal primary sensory cortices are directly connected by long-range horizontal projections in the rat sensory cortex. Front Neuroanat. 8:93. doi: 10.3389/fnana.2014.00093.
    4. Stehberg, J, Moraga-Amaro R, Salazar C, Becerra A, Echeverría C, Orellana JA, Bultynck G, Ponsaerts R, Leybaert L, Simon F, Sáez JC and Retamal MA (2012). Release of gliotransmitters through astroglial connexin 43 hemichannels is necessary for fear memory consolidation in the basolateral amygdala. The FASEB Journal, 26(9):3649-57.