Marco Contreras

Real name: 
Post Doc

Ph.D., Catholic University of Chile, 5/2010 M.S., Catholic University of Chile, 12/2007 B.S., Catholic University of Chile, 7/2003

(520) 626-9632
Psychology, 157

I am interested in the brain processes underlying emotions. More specifically, my work is focused on the role of the insular cortex in empathy and pro-social behaviors in rats. My experimental approach includes behavioral experiments, high density electrophysiological recordings and pharmacological manipulations. I am also interested in the role of the dorso-ventral axis of the hippocampus in goal-directed spatial navigation.

Selected Publications: 

- Casanova J.P., Contreras M, Moya E.A., Torrealba F., Iturriaga R. “Effect of insular cortex inactivation on autonomic and behavioral responses to acute hypoxia in conscious rats”. Behav Brain Res. 2013; 253:60-7. - Torrealba F., Riveros M.E., Contreras M., Valdés J.L. “Histamine and motivation”. Front Syst Neurosci. 2012; 6:51. - Contreras M., Billeke P., Vicencio S., Madrid C., Perdomo G., González M., Torrealba F. “The rostral insular cortex mediates long term memory for context-evoked drug craving in rats”. Neuropsychopharmacology 2012; 37(9):2101-8. - Valdés J.L., Sánchez C., Riveros M.E., Blandina P., Contreras M., Farías P., Torrealba F. “The histaminergic tuberomammillary nucleus is critical for motivated arousal”. European Journal of Neuroscience 2010; 31(11):2073-85. - Contreras M., Ceric F., Torrealba F. “El lado negativo de las emociones: la adicción a drogas de abuso” Revista de Neurología. 2008; 47(9):471-6. - Contreras M., Ceric F., Torrealba F. “Inactivation of the interoceptive insula disrupts drug craving and malaise induced by lithium” Science 2007; 318(5850): 655-8.


See our lab website for more information:

Areas of Study: 

- Affective Neuroscience. - Spatial Navigation.



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