Integral characterization of well-being by studying the Brain Reward System and its interaction with the rest of the body and its nutritional environment.

Víctor Ramírez-Amaya

We think that the best way to prevent and treat chronic non-communicable diseases is by implementing and preserve a life style that keeps our biological body in optimal conditions. To understand what these optimal conditions are, we adopted the current neuroscientific, psychological and philosophical concept of well-being.  From our neuroscientific point of view well-being is achieve through the development of 5 skills that can respond to several types of training tasks and the elaboration of our experiences. These skills are stress resilience, sustained attention, positive outlook, pro-sociality and creative expression. The Brain Reward System (BRS) has a prominent role in the development of all these skills. The BRS is integrated by a big neural network that includes de basal ganglia, the nucleus accumbens, the ventral tegmental area, the amygdala, the hippocampus, the cingulate cortex, the insular cortex and the frontal cortex, among others. This complex neural network with clearly distinct and balanced functions plays a prominent role in the modulation of energy consumption and its expenditure, but also in attention, learning and memory, sexual and social behaviour, among other functions. These functions are fundamental to explain stress resilience and the development of the other well-being skills, but importantly in neuroscience we had recently learned that they are also responsible for the expression of the 3 well-being components, the hedonic experience, the engagement experience and the eudaimonic experience; and possibly also in the general experience of emotions or emotional states.  In order to learn how to promote the development of these well-being skills so the individual can experience the expression of its components, we need to learn how to characterize a complex set of variables at different levels of analysis.  Here we propose to start with the cognitive behavioural level, the neuroanatomical and neurophysiological, plus a complex set of biological variables, from the autonomic, endocrine, metabolic and immunological systems, in relation with the programed and/or selected nutriom. The latest level of analysis will provide a more detailed description of the complex set of environmental variables that interact with the individual organism and promote some of the epigenetic adaptations to our environment, particularly here is the adaptation to the nutriom and the feeding schedule. Here we are developing both an experimental animal model and a human dynamic study, in order to characterizing variables at all these levels of analysis and to understand its relation with the development of well-being skills such as stress resilience and the expression of its components such as hedonics. The interest is to relate these skills and its components with the neuroanatomical and neurophysiological features of the BRS using immediate early gene detection coupled with fluorescent neuroanatomy stain methods in animals and modern mobile EEG methods and fMRI in humans. Our intention is to build a complex and integral model of wellbeing with which we can learn to identify the variables associated with the development of its skills and the expression of its components, so we can learn to promote well-being and prevent the development of chronic diseases.


Publications (Last 5 years)

  1. *Marrone Diano F, Ramírez-Amaya Víctor, and Barnes Carol A. (2012) Neurons Generated in Senescence Maintain Capacity for Functional Integration. May; 22(5):1134-42.
  2. *Ramírez-Amaya Víctor, Angulo-Perkins Arafat, Chawla Monica K., Barnes Carol A., Rosi Susanna. (2012) Sustained transcription of the immediate early gene Arc in the dentate gyrus after spatial exploration. The Journal of Neuroscience. Jan; 33(4):1631-1639.
  3. Carasatorre Mariana, Ramírez-Amaya Víctor, * Díaz Cintra Sofía (2013) Plasticidad sináptica estructural en el hipocampo inducida por la experiencia espacial y sus implicaciones en el procesamiento de información. Revista de Neurología. Revisión Jun 27. doi:pii: S0213-4853(12)00320-9. 10.1016/j.nrl.2012.12.005. [Epub ahead of print] English, Spanish.
  4. Bello-Medina Paola C., Sánchez-Carrasco Livia, González-Ornelas Nadia R., Jeffery Kathryn J., * Ramírez-Amaya Víctor (2013). Differential effects of spaced vs. massed training in long-term object-identity and object-location recognition memory. Behav Brain Res. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2013.04.047. Epub 2013 May 2.
  5. *Buitrón Germán, Moreno-Andrade Iván, Arellano-Badillo Víctor M. and Ramírez-Amaya Víctor. (2014) Membrane Biofouling Mechanism in an Aerobic Granular reactor degrading 4-Chlorophenol. Journal of Water Science and Technology. 69(8):1759-67. doi: 10.2166/wst.2014.091
  6. Carasatorre Mariana, Ochoa-Alvarez Adrian, Velásquez-Campos Giovanna, Lozano-Flores Carlos, Díaz-Cintra Sofía, *Ramírez-Amaya Víctor. (2015) Hippocampal Synaptic Expansion Induced by Spatial Experience in Rats Correlates with Improved Information Processing in the Hippocampus. PLoS-One. 10(8): e0132676. Published online 2015 Aug 5. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0132676
  7. Palacios Delgado, Jorge Raúl. Ramírez-Amaya Víctor. (2016). Estudio Comparativo de la Autoeficacia Saludable en las Conductas Alimenticias de Riesgo en Jóvenes. Psicología Iberoamericana. 24 (2).
  8. Palacios Delgado Jorge R, Ramírez-Amaya Víctor., Hernández Montiel Hebert L, y Anaya Loyola Miriam A. (2016) Neuroasociaciones del consumo de bebidas endulzadas. Revista Mexicana de Neurociencia. 17(6): 64-71.
  9. González-Franco DA, Ramírez-Amaya Víctor., Joseph-Bravo P, Prado-Alcalá RA, Quirarte GL. (2017) Differential Arc protein expression in dorsal and ventral striatum after moderate and intense inhibitory avoidance training. Neurobiol Learn Mem. 2017 Feb 6. pii: S1074-7427(16)30214-3. doi: 10.1016/j.nlm.2017.02.001. [Epub ahead of print]
  10. Thome Alex, Marrone Diano F, Ellmore Timothy M, Chawla Monica K, Lipa Peter, Ramírez-Amaya Víctor., Lisanby SH, McNaughton BL, Barnes CA. (2017). Evidence for an Evolutionarily Conserved Memory Coding Scheme in the Mammalian Hippocampus. Journal of Neuroscience. 2017 Feb 7. pii: 3057-16. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3057-16.2017. [Epub ahead of print].
  11. Palacios Jorge R, Ramírez-Amaya Víctor., Anaya Loyola M, Hernández Montiel Hebert L, Martínez Miranda R. (2017) Evaluación psicométrica de una escala de autoeficacia de la conducta alimentaria. Revista Chilena de Nutrición 44, Nº1.