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Dr Laura Lopez-Cruz

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Professional biography

I graduated in Psychology at University Jaume I (Castellón, Spain) in 2010/11. After getting my MSc in Clinical Psychology, Health and Neuropsychology at the same university, I got my PhD in Behavioral Neuroscience/Psychology. During my PhD, my research was focused on the study of the role of dopamine and the effect of physical exercise on anergia or lack of motivation in animal models as a symptom of depression. I was also involved in drug addiction studies focused on understanding how the combination of drugs (e.g.alcohol and caffeine) interact in the brain and affect behavior.

After my Ph.D., I worked as a Research Associate at the University of Cambridge where I extended my skillset to the use of touchscreen-based devices for assessing animal behavior and I became very interested in the use of these devices for studying other symptoms of depression (e.g. depressed mood or cognitive affective biases), I also worked in a project to study the effect of neuro-inflammation on the development or vulnerability to depression.

Currently, my research focuses on the study of individual differences in cognitive affective biases and vulnerability to depression both in humans and rodents and on the development of new translational tests for assessing depression. However, my interests and expertise are not limited to the study of affective state but to any other cognitive domain that can be affected across several psychopathologies, drug screenings, and behavioral phenotyping. 

External collaborations

  • Dr. Paola Fuentes-Claramonte. FIDMAG Research Foundation, Barcelona, Spain
  • Prof. Mercè Correa. Universitat Jaume (UJI), Castellón, Spain
  • Prof. Timothy Bussey. Western University, Canada
  • Dr. Benjamin Phillips. Dept. of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience. University of Cambridge

Internal Collaborators

  • Dr. Christopher Heath

Externally funded projects

A translational approach to study individual differences in cognitive affective bias: neural underpinnings of vulnerability to depression
RoleStart dateEnd dateFunding source
Lead29 Mar 202128 Mar 2022The Royal Society

Major obstacles to the effective exploration of mood-related processes in neuropsychiatric illness include the lack of animal models that comprehensively recapitulate human presentation, the limited number of assessment tools to evaluate affective state in non-human species and, where such tools do exist, the lack of similarity between them and the methods used in the clinic or in human research. However, recent research has suggested that commonality in a construct referred to as ‘Cognitive Affective Bias’ (CAB) exists between species and behavioural tasks for assessing it have been developed and used as new approach for antidepressant screening in rodents. The basis of CAB concerns the way a subject interprets ambiguous/uncertain stimuli in their environment given their overall affective state. For example, people with anxiety or scoring high in the personality trait neuroticism show pessimistic cognitive bias when presented with ambiguous situations or stimuli (e.g. neutral faces). The identification of population with maladaptive cognitive biases is relevant since have shown to be central to the development and maintenance of depression. On the contrary, optimistic cognitive biases contributes to resilience to depression in humans and correlate with high motivation in both humans and animals. The study of CAB in animals could be used not only as a behavioural platform for antidepressant testing, also to identify individual pessimistic or optimistic-like tendencies, how they correlate with other behaviours and how they are regulated by different neurobiological substrates. The study of individual differences on CABs together with the assessment of other relevant behaviours would also contribute to characterise behavioural phenotypes which may be related with differences on sensitivity to manipulations known by inducing depression-like behaviour. In our lab we developed a touchscreen-based cognitive bias in mice which demonstrated to be sensitive to antidepressant and pro-depressant manipulations and which is currently being forward-translated to humans thanks to the translational potential of touchscreen devises. The present project aims 1) to study individual differences on CAB in mice and explore potential correlations with other relevant behaviours which have shown to correlate with pessimistic or optimistic biases in humans, such us motivation and anxiety, 2) if necessary, to optimise our CAB task to maximise individual differences to stablish a clear “cut off” to classify two types of populations (i.e. ‘optimistic’ vs. ‘pessimistic’ animals) and 3) to study patterns of neuronal activation by cFos in different brain areas known by being involved in the processing of affective information in both populations of mice. The results from this project will contribute to identify the target brain areas for the future analysis of specific mechanisms underlying vulnerability to depression as well as to optimise a touchscreen-based platform for the study of vulnerability to depression with a high translational potential.


Refining the study of decision-making in animals: differential effects of d-amphetamine and haloperidol in a novel touchscreen-automated Rearing-Effort Discounting (RED) task and the Fixed-Ratio Effort Discounting (FRED) task (2024-01)
Lopez-Cruz, Laura; Phillips, Benjamin U; Hailwood, Jon M; Saksida, Lisa M; Heath, Christopher and Bussey, Timothy J
Neuropsychopharmacology, 49 (pp. 422-432)

Reconsidering repurposing: long-term metformin treatment impairs cognition in Alzheimer’s model mice (2024)
Cho, So Yeon; Kim, Eun Woo; Park, Soo Jin; Phillips, Benjamin U.; Jeong, Jihyeon; Kim, Hyunjeong; Heath, Christopher J.; Kim, Daehwan; Jang, Yurim; López-Cruz, Laura; Saksida, Lisa M.; Bussey, Timothy J.; Lee, Do Yup and Kim, Eosu
Translational Psychiatry, 14, Article 34

Developmental origin of oligodendrocytes determines their function in the adult brain (2024)
Foerster, Sarah; Floriddia, Elisa M; van Bruggen, David; Kukanja, Petra; Herve, Bastien; Cheng, Shangli; Kim, Eosu; Phillips, Benjamin U; Heath, Christopher J; Tripathi, Richa B; Call, Cody; Bartels, Theresa; Ridley, Katherine; Neumann, Bjorn; Lopez-Cruz, Laura; Crawford, Abbe H; Lynch, Cian J; Serrano, Manuel; Saksida, Lisa; Rowitch, David H; Mobius, Wiebke; Nave, Klaus-Armin; Rasband, Matthew N; Bergles, Dwight E; Kessaris, Nicoletta; Richardson, Willam D; Bussey, Timothy J; Zhao, Chao; Castelo-Branco, Goncalo and Franklin, Robin JM
Nature Neuroscience ((In press))

Early-life stress biases responding to negative feedback and increases amygdala volume and vulnerability to later-life stress (2023-03-07)
Dutcher, Ethan G; Lopez-Cruz, Laura; Pama EA, Claudia EA; Lynall, Mary-Ellen; Bevers, Iris CR; Jones, Joylon A; Khan, Shahid; Sawiak, Stephen J; Milton, Amy L; Clatworthy, Menna R; Robbins, Trevor W; Bullmore, Edward T and Dalley, Jeffrey W
Translational Psychiatry, 13, Article 81

Sex-dependent effects of early life stress on reinforcement learning and limbic cortico-striatal functional connectivity (2023-01)
Zühlsdorff, Katharina; Lopez-Cruz, Laura; Dutcher, Ethan G.; Jones, Jolyon A.; Pama, Claudia; Sawiak, Stephen; Khan, Shahid; Milton, Amy L.; Robbins, Trevor W.; Bullmore, Edward T. and Dalley, Jeffrey W.
Neurobiology of Stress, 22, Article 100507

Using touchscreen-delivered cognitive assessments to address the principles of the 3Rs in behavioural sciences (2021-07)
Lopez-Cruz, Laura; Bussey, Timothy J.; Saksida, Lisa M. and Heath, Christopher
Lab Animal, 50 (pp. 174-184)

Impact of Fluoxetine on Behavioral Invigoration of Appetitive and Aversively Motivated Responses: Interaction With Dopamine Depletion (2021-07)
Carratalá-Ros, Carla; Lopez-Cruz, Laura; Martínez-Verdú, Andrea; Olivares-García, Régulo; Salamone, John D. and Correa, Mercè
Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 15, Article 700182

Impact of Caffeine on Ethanol-Induced Stimulation and Sensitization: Changes in ERK and DARPP-32 Phosphorylation in Nucleus Accumbens (2021-03)
Porru, Simona; López-Cruz, Laura; Carratalá‐Ros, Carla; Salamone, John D.; Acquas, Elio and Correa, Mercè
Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 45(3) (pp. 608-619)

Preference for Exercise vs. More Sedentary Reinforcers: Validation of an Animal Model of Tetrabenazine-Induced Anergia (2020-01)
Carratalá-Ros, Carla; Lopez-Cruz, Laura; SanMiguel, Noemí; Ibáñez-Marín, Patricia; Martínez-Verdú, Andrea; Salamone, John D. and Correa, Mercè
Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 13

Coexistence of perseveration and apathy in the TDP-43Q331K knock-in mouse model of ALS–FTD (2020)
Kim, Eosu; White, Matthew A.; Phillips, Benjamin U.; Lopez-Cruz, Laura; Kim, Hyunjeong; Heath, Christopher J.; Lee, Jong Eun; Saksida, Lisa M.; Sreedharan, Jemeen and Bussey, Timothy J.
Translational Psychiatry, 10, Article 377(1)

Caffeine modulates voluntary alcohol intake in mice depending on the access conditions: Involvement of adenosine receptors and the role of individual differences (2019-11)
SanMiguel, N; Lopez-Cruz, L.; Müller, C.E.; Salamone, J.D. and Correa, M.
Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, 186, Article 172789

Dopamine D2-like receptor stimulation blocks negative feedback in visual and spatial reversal learning in the rat: behavioural and computational evidence (2019-08)
Alsiö, Johan; Phillips, Benjamin U.; Sala-Bayo, Júlia; Nilsson, Simon R. O.; Calafat-Pla, Teresa C.; Rizwand, Arazo; Plumbridge, Jessica M.; Lopez-Cruz, Laura; Dalley, Jeffrey W.; Cardinal, Rudolf N.; Mar, Adam C. and Robbins, Trevor W.
Psychopharmacology, 236(8) (pp. 2307-2323)

Drug-free and context-dependent locomotor hyperactivity in DBA/2 J mice previously treated with repeated cocaine: Relationship with behavioral sensitization and role of noradrenergic receptors (2019-01)
Luján, Miguel A.; Colomar, Laura; Tarragón, Ernesto; Lopez-Cruz, Laura; Pastor, Raúl and Font, Laura
Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, 176 (pp. 101-110)

Translational tests involving non-reward: methodological considerations (2019-01)
Phillips, Benjamin U.; Lopez-Cruz, Laura; Saksida, Lisa M. and Bussey, Timothy J.
Psychopharmacology, 236(1) (pp. 449-461)

Caffeine Modulates Food Intake Depending on the Context That Gives Access to Food: Comparison With Dopamine Depletion (2018-09-06)
Correa, Mercè; SanMiguel, Noemí; Lopez-Cruz, Laura; Carratalá-Ros, Carla; Olivares-García, Régulo and Salamone, John D.
Frontiers in Psychiatry, 9, Article 411

Dopamine depletion shifts behavior from activity based reinforcers to more sedentary ones and adenosine receptor antagonism reverses that shift: Relation to ventral striatum DARPP32 phosphorylation patterns (2018-08)
Lopez-Cruz, Laura; San Miguel, Noemí; Carratalá-Ros, Carla; Monferrer, Lidón; Salamone, John D. and Correa, Mercè
Neuropharmacology, 138 (pp. 349-359)

Caffeine and Selective Adenosine Receptor Antagonists as New Therapeutic Tools for the Motivational Symptoms of Depression (2018-06-01)
Lopez-Cruz, Laura; Salamone, John D. and Correa, Mercè
Frontiers in Pharmacology, 9, Article 526

Individual differences in the energizing effects of caffeine on effort-based decision-making tests in rats (2018)
SanMiguel, Noemí; Pardo, Marta; Carratalá-Ros, Carla; Lopez-Cruz, Laura; Salamone, John D. and Correa, Mercè
Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, 169 (pp. 27-34)

Adenosine A 2A receptor deletion affects social behaviors and anxiety in mice: Involvement of anterior cingulate cortex and amygdala (2017-03-15)
Lopez-Cruz, Laura; Carbó-Gas, Maria; Pardo, Marta; Bayarri, Pilar; Valverde, Olga; Ledent, Catherine; Salamone, John D. and Correa, Mercè
Behavioural Brain Research, 321 (pp. 8-17)

Ethanol and Caffeine Effects on Social Interaction and Recognition in Mice: Involvement of Adenosine A2A and A1 Receptors (2016-11-02)
Lopez-Cruz, Laura; San-Miguel, Noemí; Bayarri, Pilar; Baqi, Younis; Müller, Christa E.; Salamone, John D. and Correa, Mercé
Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 10, Article 206

Evaluation of the effort-related motivational effects of the novel dopamine uptake inhibitor PRX-14040 (2016-09)
Yohn, Samantha E.; Gogoj, Augustyna; Haque, Aileen; Lopez-Cruz, Laura; Haley, Allison; Huxley, Philip; Baskin, Patricia; Correa, Merce and Salamone, John D.
Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, 148 (pp. 84-91)

Activational and effort-related aspects of motivation: neural mechanisms and implications for psychopathology (2016-05)
Salamone, John D.; Yohn, Samantha E.; Lopez-Cruz, Laura; San Miguel, Noemí and Correa, Mercè
Brain, 139(5) (pp. 1325-1347)

The pharmacology of effort-related choice behavior: Dopamine, depression, and individual differences (2016)
Salamone, John D.; Correa, Merce; Yohn, Samantha; Lopez Cruz, Laura; San Miguel, Noemi and Alatorre, Luisa
Behavioural Processes, 127 (pp. 3-17)

Selection of sucrose concentration depends on the effort required to obtain it: studies using tetrabenazine, D1, D2, and D3 receptor antagonists (2015-07)
Pardo, Marta; Lopez-Cruz, Laura; Miguel, Noemí San; Salamone, John D. and Correa, Mercè
Psychopharmacology, 232(13) (pp. 2377-2391)

Bupropion Increases Selection of High Effort Activity in Rats Tested on a Progressive Ratio/Chow Feeding Choice Procedure: Implications for Treatment of Effort-Related Motivational Symptoms (2015-02)
Randall, P. A.; Lee, C. A.; Podurgiel, S. J.; Hart, E.; Yohn, S. E.; Jones, M.; Rowland, M.; Lopez-Cruz, Laura; Correa, M. and Salamone, J. D.
International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, 18, Article pyu017(2)

Effects of lisdexamfetamine and s-citalopram, alone and in combination, on effort-related choice behavior in the rat (2015)
Yohn, Samantha E.; Lopez-Cruz, Laura; Hutson, Peter H.; Correa, Merce and Salamone, John D.
Psychopharmacology, 233(6) (pp. 949-960)

Choosing voluntary exercise over sucrose consumption depends upon dopamine transmission: effects of haloperidol in wild type and adenosine A2AKO mice (2015)
Correa, Mercè; Pardo, Marta; Bayarri, Pilar; Lopez-Cruz, Laura; San Miguel, Noemí; Valverde, Olga; Ledent, Catherine and Salamone, John D.
Psychopharmacology, 233(3) (pp. 393-404)

Differences between the nonselective adenosine receptor antagonists caffeine and theophylline in motor and mood effects: Studies using medium to high doses in animal models (2014-08-15)
Lopez-Cruz, Laura; Pardo, Marta; Salamone, John D. and Correa, Mercè
Behavioural Brain Research, 270 (pp. 213-222)

Effort-Related Motivational Effects of the VMAT-2 Inhibitor Tetrabenazine: Implications for Animal Models of the Motivational Symptoms of Depression (2013-12-13)
Nunes, E. J.; Randall, P. A.; Hart, E. E.; Freeland, C.; Yohn, S. E.; Baqi, Y.; Muller, C. E.; Lopez-Cruz, L.; Correa, M. and Salamone, J. D.
Journal of Neuroscience, 33(49) (pp. 19120-19130)

The vesicular monoamine transporter (VMAT-2) inhibitor tetrabenazine induces tremulous jaw movements in rodents: Implications for pharmacological models of parkinsonian tremor (2013-10-10)
Podurgiel, S.J.; Nunes, E.J.; Yohn, S.E.; Barber, J.; Thompson, A.; Milligan, M.; Lee, C.A.; López-Cruz, L.; Pardo, M.; Valverde, O.; Lendent, C.; Baqi, Y.; Müller, C.E.; Correa, M. and Salamone, J.D.
Neuroscience, 250 (pp. 507-519)

Effect of subtype-selective adenosine receptor antagonists on basal or haloperidol-regulated striatal function: Studies of exploratory locomotion and c-Fos immunoreactivity in outbred and A2AR KO mice (2013-06-15)
Pardo, M.; Lopez-Cruz, L.; Valverde, O.; Ledent, C.; Baqi, Y.; Müller, C.E.; Salamone, J.D. and Correa, M.
Behavioural Brain Research, 247 (pp. 217-226)

The Impact of Caffeine on the Behavioral Effects of Ethanol Related to Abuse and Addiction: A Review of Animal Studies (2013-05-02)
Lopez-Cruz, Laura; Salamone, John D. and Correa, Mercè
Journal of Caffeine Research, 3(1) (pp. 9-21)

Acetate as an active metabolite of ethanol: studies of locomotion, loss of righting reflex, and anxiety in rodents (2013)
Pardo, Marta; Betz, Adrienne J.; San Miguel, Noemí; Lopez-Cruz, Laura; Salamone, John D. and Correa, Mercè
Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 7, Article 81

c-Fos immunoreactivity in prefrontal, basal ganglia and limbic areas of the rat brain after central and peripheral administration of ethanol and its metabolite acetaldehyde (2013)
Segovia, Kristen N.; Vontell, Regina; Lopez-Cruz, Laura; Salamone, John D. and Correa, Mercè
Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 7, Article 48

The novel adenosine A2A antagonist prodrug MSX-4 is effective in animal models related to motivational and motor functions (2012-10)
Santerre, Jessica L.; Nunes, Eric J.; Kovner, Rotem; Leser, Chelsea E.; Randall, Patrick A.; Collins-Praino, Lyndsey E.; Lopez-Cruz, Laura; Correa, Merce; Baqi, Younis; Müller, Christa E. and Salamone, John D.
Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, 102(4) (pp. 477-487)

Adenosine A2A receptor antagonism and genetic deletion attenuate the effects of dopamine D2 antagonism on effort-based decision making in mice (2012-04)
Pardo, M.; Lopez-Cruz, L.; Valverde, O.; Ledent, C.; Baqi, Y.; Müller, C.E.; Salamone, J.D. and Correa, M.
Neuropharmacology, 62(5-6) (pp. 2068-2077)

Dopaminergic Modulation of Effort-Related Choice Behavior as Assessed by a Progressive Ratio Chow Feeding Choice Task: Pharmacological Studies and the Role of Individual Differences (2012)
Randall, Patrick A.; Pardo, Marta; Nunes, Eric J.; Lopez-Cruz, Laura; Vemuri, V. Kiran; Makriyannis, Alex; Baqi, Younis; Müller, Christa E.; Correa, Mercè and Salamone, John D.
PLoS ONE, 7, Article e47934(10)

Motivation – Behavioral Approaches and Translational Potential (2022)
Lopez-Cruz, Laura and Heath, Christopher J.
In: Della Salla, Sergio ed. Encyclopedia of Behavioral Neuroscience, 2nd edition (pp. 60-69)
Publisher : Elsevier

Chapter 56 - The Impact of Ethanol Plus Caffeine Exposure on Cognitive, Emotional, and Motivational Effects Related to Social Functioning (2019)
Correa, Mercè; Lopez-Cruz, Laura; Porru, Simona and Salamone, John D.
In: Preedy, Victor R. ed. Neuroscience of Alcohol (pp. 545-554)
ISBN : 978-0-12-813125-1 | Publisher : Academic Press

Mesolimbic Dopamine and the Regulation of Motivated Behavior (2016)
Salamone, John D.; Pardo, Marta; Yohn, Samantha E.; Lopez-Cruz, Laura; SanMiguel, Noemí and Correa, Mercè
In: Simpson, Eleanor H. and Balsam, Peter eds. Behavioral Neuroscience of Motivation. Current Topics in Behavioral Neurosciences (pp. 231-257)
ISBN : 978-3-319-26933-7 | Publisher : Springer International Publishing Switzerland

The Role of Adenosine in the Ventral Striatal Circuits Regulating Behavioral Activation and Effort-Related Decision Making: Importance for Normal and Pathological Aspects of Motivation (2013)
Salamone, John D.; Correa, Merce; Randall, Patrick A.; Nunes, Eric J.; Pardo, Marta and Lopez-Cruz, Laura
In: Masino, Susan and Boison, Detlev eds. Adenosine: A Key Link between Metabolism and Brain Activity (pp. 493-512)
ISBN : 978-1-4614-3902-8 | Publisher : Springer-Verlag New York

Lopez-Cruz, Laura; San, Miguel; Carbó-Gas, Maria; Bayarri, Pilar; Pardo, Marta; Ros, Xavier; Valverde, Olga; Ledent, Catherine; Salamone, John and Correa, Mercè
In : 15th European Behavioural Pharmacology Society (6-9 Sep 2013, La Rochelle, France) (e47)

Correa, Mercè; Lopez-Cruz, Laura; Bayarri, Pilar; Pardo, Marta; San Miguel, Noemí; Ros, Xavier and Salamone, John
In : 15th European Behavioural Pharmacology Society (6-9 Sep 2013, La Rochelle, France) (e3-e4)

Comparison between high doses of caffeine and theophylline on motor and axiogenic effects in CD1 mice: studies of acute and chronic administration (2011)
Lopez-Cruz, Laura; Pardo, Marta; Salamone, John D and Correa, Merce
In : 14th Biennial Meeting of the European Behavioural Pharmacology Societty (26-29 Aug 2011, Amsterdam) (e1-e73)