I am a neuroscientist, currently associate research scientist in the Zuckerman Institute at Columbia University. My interests focus on determining basic cellular and circuit-based mechanisms by which neurons in the central nervous system perform specific behavioral tasks, from movement control in the spinal cord to memory storage in the hippocampus. Currently, I investigate how circuit-based mechanisms originating in the hippocampus support social interactions.
After completing my Ph.D. at Paris Descartes University, where I worked on the spinal cord, I moved to the laboratory of Steven Siegelbaum to study memory encoding. There, I became interested in a little-studied hippocampal region named CA2 that is necessary for social memory. After discovering a new form of plasticity in CA2 that may support social memory encoding (Leroy et al., Neuron 2017), I began examining how CA2 output could mediate social behaviors. Based on my finding that CA2 sends a strong projection to the lateral septum, an area implicated in aggression, I focused on how CA2 might modulate social aggression. As a core motivated behavior, aggression is controlled by a hypothalamic nucleus, specifically the ventro-lateral part of the ventro-medial hypothalamic nucleus (VMHvl). I discovered that CA2 upregulates VMHvl activity, thereby enhancing aggression, through a disynaptic disinhibitory circuit in the lateral septum that is modulated by the social neuropeptide arginine vasopressin (Leroy et al. Nature 2018).