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Research Interests

My general research interest is to understanding the neurobiology of learning and memory processes, both in normal and pathological conditions. Memory has been divided into different categories, according to a temporal gradient (short term vs long term memory) and a qualitative distinction (explicit and implicit memory) of long-term memory. These psychological constructs are believed to subtend different and parallel neural circuits, different biological processes and different genetic determinants. In particular the hippocampus is generally believed to mediate explicit long-term memory formation and maintenance, but not implicit long-term memory or working memory. On the contrary, fronto-striatal circuits are believed to support both working memory and implicit long-term memory.
The focus of my research is to understand the neurobiology or fronto-striatal memory functions and its relationship with medial temporal lobe activity, and in particular to investigate:
• The inter-hemispheric neuronal and functional connections between the medial temporal lobe regions and the different striatal subregions;
• The interaction between second-messenger molecular cascades activated by dopamine and glutamate receptors within the striatum, in neurodegenerative disorders;
• The neurobiology of working memory capacity, which is the number of elements that can be retained in memory for seconds to minutes.
For these aims neurochemical, pharmacological, histochemical, and behavioural genetic approaches will be used. Understanding the neurobiology of memory is a first necessary step to treat cognitive symptoms in neurodegenerative disorders, such as ageing, Parkinson’ and Alzheimer disease, which is the ultimate goal of my research.

Short CV

Scientific experience and positions

  • CNR Researcher, Institute of Genetics and Biophysics, CNR, Naples, Italy, 2010
  • Independent researcher, Telethon Institute of Genetics and Medicine, Naples, Italy, 2007-2009
  • Director of the behavioral core, Telethon Institute of Genetics and Medicine, Naples, Italy, 2007
  • Visiting scientist at the CNRS, Neurobiologie de la Cognition, Marseille, France, 2005
  • Lecturer, Università degli studi di Roma “La Sapienza”, Rome, Italy, 2004-
  • Cognitive and Behavioral therapy spacialization, Skinner Institute for research and Training. School of Cognitive and Behavioral Psychotherapy, Rome, Italy, 1999-2004.
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Genetic and Molecular Biology C. Darwin, University of Rome “La Sapienza”, Rome, Italy, 2004-2007
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Neuropsychopharmacology, Catholic University of Nijmegen, Nijmegen, The Netherlands, 2002-2004
  • PhD, Psychobiology and psychopharmacology, University of Rome “La Sapienza”, Rome, Italy, 2002
  • Master Degree in Psychology, University of Rome “La Sapienza”, Rome, Italy, 1999

Fellowships and prizes

  • Annual prize for scientific achievements in psychobiology from the magazine “Mente e Cervello”, 2008
  • Research Fellowship, Telethon Foundation, Italy, 2007-2008
  • Research fellowship, CNR, Italy, 2004
  • Fellowship as a scholar Ambassador of Rotary International, Rotary International, Evanston (USA), 2004
  • Fellowship for training in foreign country, University of Rome “la Sapienza”, Rome, Italy, 2003
  • PhD Fellowship, University of Rome “la Sapienza”, Rome, Italy, 1999-2002
  • Undergraduate fellowship, University of Rome “La Sapienza”, Rome, Italy, 2006




Selected Publications
  • 1: Managò F, Lopez S, Oliverio A, Amalric M, Mele A, De Leonibus E. Interaction between the mGlu receptors 5 antagonist, MPEP, and amphetamine on memory and motor functions in mice. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2013 Apr;226(3):541-50.

  • 2: Sannino S, Russo F, Torromino G, Pendolino V, Calabresi P, De Leonibus E. Role of the dorsal hippocampus in object memory load. Learn Mem. 2012 Apr 20;19(5):211-8.

  • 3: De Leonibus E, Costantini VJ, Massaro A, Mandolesi G, Vanni V, Luvisetto S, Pavone F, Oliverio A, Mele A. Cognitive and neural determinants of response strategy in the dual-solution plus-maze task. Learn Mem. 2011 Mar 24;18(4):241-4.

  • 4: Spampanato C*, De Leonibus E*, Dama P, Gargiulo A, Fraldi A, Sorrentino NC, Russo F, Nusco E, Auricchio A, Surace EM, Ballabio A. Efficacy of a combined intracerebral and systemic gene delivery approach for the treatment of a severe lysosomal storage disorder. Mol Ther. 2011 May;19(5):860-9.

  • 5: De Leonibus E, Managò F, Giordani F, Petrosino F, Lopez S, Oliverio A, Amalric M, Mele A. Metabotropic glutamate receptors 5 blockade reverses spatial memory deficits in a mouse model of Parkinson's disease. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2009 Feb;34(3):729-38. doi: 10.1038/npp.2008.129. Epub 2008 Aug 13.

  • 6: Managò F, Castellano C, Oliverio A, Mele A, De Leonibus E. Role of dopamine receptors subtypes, D1-like and D2-like, within the nucleus accumbens subregions, core and shell, on memory consolidation in the one-trial inhibitory avoidance task. Learn Mem. 2008 Dec 30;16(1):46-52.



  • Dr. GianCarlo Bellenchi


  • Prof Richard Huganir (John Hopkins University, Baltimore USA)
  • Prof. Andrea Mele (University of Rome “La Sapienza”, Rome, Italy)
  • Prof Paolo Calabresi and Dr Barbara Picconi (Fondazione Santa Lucia, Rome, Italy)
  • Dr. Michele Studer (Université de Nice Sophia Antipolis, Nice, France)
  • Dr. Marianne Amalric (CNRS, Neurobiologie de la Cognition, , Marseille, France)
  • Prof. Alexander Cools (Dept. of Neuropsychopharmacology, Catholic University of Nijmegen, Nijmegen, the Netherlands)
  • Prof. Andrea Ballabio (TIGEM, Naples, Italy)
  • Prof. Brunella Franco (TIGEM, Naples, Italy)
  • Prof. Alberto Auricchio (TIGEM, Naples, Italy)
  • Dr. Enrico Maria Surace (TIGEM, Naples, Italy)
  • Prof. Giancarlo Parenti (TIGEM, Naples, Italy)
  • Dr. Elizabeth Illingworth (TIGEM, Naples, Italy)

Keywords: Learning and memory, neurodegenerative disorders, behavioral phenotype

Elvira De Leonibus

CNR Researcher (Ricercatore)

+39 081 6132267

Staff Members:

Giulia Torromino