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Our research is focused on understanding the neurobiological and etiological mechanisms of genetic neurodevelopmental disorders such as Williams syndrome and autism spectrum disorders.

With better understanding of the mechanisms leading to the brain development and behavioral deficits, the laboratory aspires to ultimately develop drugs that will rescue the behavioral and functional deficits.

To achieve this, we are mainly interested in the following research topics:


Neurogenetics and neurodevelopmental aspects of psychiatric disorders​

The Barak laboratory investigates the genetic underpinnings and neural circuitry that contribute to hypersocial behavior in Williams syndrome (WS) and the contrasting hyposocial behavior observed in autism spectrum disorders (ASD).


Our research aims to characterize the postnatal developmental and functional roles of genes in specific cell types and developmental stages using mouse models for psychiatric disorders.


Specifically, our primary focus is on understanding neuron-glia interactions and the resulting myelination process in WS and ASD. 

Myelin and behavior interplay

Myelination is a complex developmental process crucial for proper brain development, influenced by various factors. As such, dysregulation of the myelin condition can severely affect behavior and physiology.


Our research focuses on unraveling the molecular mechanisms behind the effects of myelin conditions on behavior in mouse models for psychiatric disorders.


Additionally, we investigate the transcriptional regulation of myelination across different brain cell types, aiming to enhance our understanding and find ways to improve myelination.


Functional neuroanatomy of the social brain

To properly perform social behavior, an individual need to acquire, process, store and use social input from the environment to decide on and take proper social actions, the sum of which is called social cognition. We dissect neural circuits and brain regions’ roles in social and anxiety-like behavior, by utilizing in vivo optogenetics to manipulate brain regions that affect social behavior in mouse models for psychiatric disorders. Also, we use gene-rescue approaches to restore behavior and physiology in mouse models for psychiatric disorders.

Molecular processes and cell signaling

Current research in the lab focuses on studying neuron-glia interactions and their role in the pathophysiology of psychiatric disorders. We study which central pathways and molecular mechanisms mediate myelin condition and the related behavioral and physiological outcomes. Ultimately, by better understanding of the main components of the myelination process and their abnormal activity in illness, we aim to improve our ability to identify novel valid drug targets to treat psychiatric disorders.


Therapeutic approaches

We thrive to validate our novel pathophysiological findings from our basic research findings in clinical environment with human patients, in hope to identify the safe and life-improving drug to treat behavioral and physiological deficits in psychiatric disorders. To achieve this, we conduct pharmacological and pharmacogenetical studies to improve behavioral abnormalities related to psychiatric disorders.

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