Eliane-Comoli-150x150 Advisor
Departament of Physiology in the Ribeirão Preto Medical School/USP
+55 (16) 3315 4525 ou 3315 4630 (Lab)



2011 – 2011: Visiting Professor at Dr. Peter Redgrave´s Laboratory at the Psychology Department, Sheffield University, United Kingdom. Fellowship: Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo, proc # 2006/03655-4

2010 – 2010: Visiting Professor at Dr. Michael Brecht´s Laboratory, Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience, Humboldt University, Berlim-Germany. Fellowship: Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo, proc # 2006/03655-4

2002 – 2003: Post Doc Position at Washington University School Of Medicine Saint Louis MO USA, WU, USA. Supervised by Arthur D Loewy. Grant: NIH

2001 – 2002: Trainning at the Psychology Department, Sheffield University, United Kingdom. Supervised by Peter Redgrave. Fellowship: Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo, processo # 97/10490-0.

1998 – 2002: PhD in Sciences (Human Physiology) by University of São Paulo, SP, Brasil. Supervised by Newton Sabino Canteras. Fellowship: Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo, proc # 97/10490-0

1995 – 1998: Master Degree in Psychology (Neuroscience and Behavior) by University of São Paulo, SP, Brasil. Supervised by Newton Sabino Canteras. Fellowship: Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo, proc # 95/1765-0

1991 – 1994: Graduation in Biological Sciences by Universidade de São Paulo, USP, SP, Brasil. Supervised by Jarbas Francisco Giorgini. Fellowship: Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo, proc # 92/04423-5
Professional Position

Assistant Professor at University of São Paulo, School of Medicine of Ribeirão Preto, Departament of Physiology since 2005.
Assistant Professor at State University of Londrina, Department of Physiological Sciences from 2004 to 2005.

During the past few years, collaboration between Dr Eliane Comoli at the University of São Paulo and the Dept. of Psychology at the University of Sheffield has successfully developed a neuroethological paradigm in which exclusive motivations of rats are put in direct competition. An outcome of this collaboration is that Dr Comoli’s laboratory has recently completed an investigation showing that rats have to be deprived of food for several days before they are prepared to hunt cockroaches in the presence of a predator (a cat). In this experiment the natural motivation to hunt, enhanced by food deprivation, competed directly with the motivation to avoid attracting the attention of the predator. A particularly interesting aspect of this paradigm is that when the rats are permitted to hunt roaches in the absence of a predator prolific there is prolific expression of the neural activity marker, c-fos, in lateral sectors of the rats’ midbrain superior colliculus (SC) (Comoli et al., 2010). Conversely, when placed in the presence of the cat without any prey present, the rats adopt defensive postures (mainly freezing), and c-fos expression is confined largely to medial sectors of the SC (Favaro et al., 2011).
The significance of these observations is that the midbrain SC is one of the principal sources of sub-cortical loops through the basal ganglia (McHaffie). The SC is correspondingly evolutionary ancient structure and is responsible for basic sensorimotor transformations required to direct gaze towards or away from unexpected, biologically salient events (Dean et al., 1989). The presence of predators or prey, for most species, would qualify as biologically significant. Such events are signalled to the SC through primary multisensory afferent projections that are spatially organised according to a precise retinotopic topography (Stein and Meredith, 1993). For animals where both predators and prey can appear from any direction (e.g. many species of fish, birds and monkeys), perceptual filters in the SC that promote approach or avoidance responses, are likely to be distributed throughout the retinotopically based topography. However, in the case of rodents, their ecology dictates that predators are most frequently detected initially as movements in the upper visual field – which is represented in the medial portion of the SC’s spatial map. Alternatively, appetitive stimuli (e.g. prey, offspring) are normally found in the lower visual field – which, in turn, is represented in the lateral portion of the SC. This functional organisation is supported by previous work conducted in Sheffield, in which stimulation of lateral SC evoked approach-like and appetitive movements, while stimulation of medial SC induced defense-like responses (Sahibzada et al., 1986, Dean et al., 1986). The most intriguing aspect of Dr Comoli’s most recent study is that when hungry rats were simultaneously exposed to predator and prey, some of the animals chose to hunt and some to freeze. This decision could be predicted by the differential distribution of the c-fos activity marker in medial (defense) or lateral (approach) SC.
In a parallel experiments conducted in Sheffield it was shown how the functionally segregated regions of the lateral and medial SC project to different regions of the principal input nucleus of the basal ganglia, the striatum (Hayes et al SFN ref). Briefly, anterograde anatomical tracing experiments showed that projections from the medial and lateral SC target different intermediate relay nuclei in the thalamus, which in turn project to different functional territories within the striatum. In another a recent collaborative study between Dr Eliane Comoli and Dr Peter Redgrave (Comoli et al., 2012), we showed that the medial and lateral SC also receive return connections from segregated regions within the basal ganglia output nuclei. Together these anatomical experiments establish that the functionally segregated territories in the rat SC associated with defense and approach contribute to different, potentially competing loops through the basal ganglia. Since then we have been exploiting this remarkable spatial segregation of function to investigate how the basal ganglia might resolve competition between these two fundamental exclusive motivational systems (FAPESP # 2014/08214-2).


1. COMOLI, E.; FAVARO, P.D.N.; VAUTRELLE, N.; LERICHE, M.; OVERTON, P. AND REDGRAVE, P. Segregated anatomical input to sub-regions of the rodent superior colliculus associated with approach and defense. Frontiers in Neuroanatomy v. 6, article 9, 2012.

2. FAVARO, PN; GOUVEA, TH, OLIVEIRA, SR, VAUTRELLE, N, REDGRAVE,P AND COMOLI, E. The influence of vibrissal somatosensory processing in rat superior colliculus on prey capture. Neuroscience, 16:318-27, 2011.

3. REDGRAVE, p; COIZET, V; COMOLI, E; MCHAFFIE, J.G; VAZQUEZ, M.L; VAUTRELLE, N; HAYES, L.M; OVERTON, P. Interactions between the midbrain superior colliculus and the basal ganglia. Frontiers in Neuroanatomy, v.4, p.132, 2010.

4. FURIGO, I..C; DE OLIVEIRA, W.F.; DE OLIVEIRA, A.R.; COMOLI, E.; BALDO,M.V.; MOTA-ORTIZ, S.R. AND CANTERAS, N.S. The role of superior colliculus in predatory hunting. Neuroscience, v.165, p.1-15, 2010.

5. CASTLE, M, COMOLI, Eliane, LOEWY, Arthur D. Autonomic brainstem nuclei are linked to the hippocampus. Neuroscience. , v.134, p.657 – 669, 2005.

6. COMOLI, Eliane, BARBOSA, Erika Renata Ribeiro, NEGRAO, Nubio, GOTO, Marina, CANTERAS, Newton Sabino Functional mapping of the prosencephalic systems involved in organizing predatory behavior in rats. Neuroscience. , v.130, p.1055 – 1067, 2005.

7. COMOLI, Eliane, COIZET, Veronique, BOYES, Justin, BOLAM, J Paul, CANTERAS, Newton Sabino, QUIRK, Rachel H, OVERTON, Paul G, REDGRAVE, Peter A direct projection from superior colliculus to substantia nigra for detecting salient visual events. Nature Neuroscience. , v.6, p.974 – 980, 2003.

8. COIZET, Veronique, COMOLI, Eliane, WESTBY, G W Max, REDGRAVE, Peter Phasic activation of substantia nigra and the ventral tegmental area by chemical stimulation of the superior colliculus: an electrophysiological investigation in the rat. European Journal of Neuroscience. , v.17, p.28 – 40, 2003.

9. COMOLI, Eliane, BARBOSA, Erika Renata Ribeiro, CANTERAS, Newton Sabino Predatory hunting and exposure to a live predator induce opposite patterns of Fos immunoreactivity in the PAG. Behavioural Brain Research. , v.138, p.17 – 28, 2003.

10. CANTERAS, Newton Sabino, BARBOSA, Erika Renata Ribeiro, COMOLI, Eliane Tracing from the dorsal premammillary nucleus prosencephalic systems involved in the organization of innate fear responses. Neuroscience And Biobehavioral Reviews. , v.25, p.661 – 668, 2001.

11. COMOLI, Eliane, BARBOSA, Erika Renata Ribeiro, CANTERAS, Newton Sabino Afferent connections of the Dorsal Premammillary Nucleus. Journal of Comparative Neurology. , v.423, p.83 – 98, 2000.

12. GIORGINI, Jarbas Francisco, COMOLI, Eliane Effect of Embryo and exogenous GA3 on Endospermic endo-beta-D-mannanase activity of Coffea arabica L. during germination and early seedling growth.. Brazilian Journal Of Vegetal Physiology. , v.8, p.43 – 49, 1996.

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