Rui M. Costa, PhD

  • Professor of Neuroscience (in Neurology and in the Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute)
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Academic Appointments

  • Professor of Neuroscience (in Neurology and in the Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute)


  • Male


Our overall goal is to understand how changes in molecular networks in the brain modify neural circuits to allow the generation of novel actions and their shaping by experience. We use genetic, electrophysiological, optical, and behavioral approaches to gain this mechanistic insight.

We are also interested in understanding action control, in particular the differences between goal-directed actions and habits. We also study the mechanisms behind disorders of behavioral repetitive and compulsion, such as Autism Spectrum Disorders and Obsessive-Compulsive conditions.

Research Interests

  • Behavioral Genetics
  • electrophysiology

Selected Publications

Silva, JA, Tecuapetla, F., Paixão VB, Costa, RM (2015). Activity transients in nigral dopaminergic neurons gate self-paced action initiation. Submitted.

Tecuapetla, F, Jin, X., Lima, SQ, Costa, RM (2015). Complementary Contribution of Striatal Projection Pathways to the Initiation and Execution of Action Sequences. Submitted.

Vicente, AM*, Galvão-Ferreira, P*, Tecuapetla, F, Costa, RM (2015). Direct and indirect striatal projection pathways reinforce different action strategies. Submitted.

Gremel CM, Chancey J, Atwood B, Luo G, Neve R, Ramakrishnan C , Deisseroth K, Lovinger DM, Costa RM (2015). Endocannabinoid modulation of orbitostriatal circuits gates habit formation. Submitted.

French CA, Veloz MV, Zhou K Fisher SE*, Costa RM*, De Zeeuw CI* (2015). Foxp2 Disruptions in Specific Brain Circuits Differentially Affect Motor-Skill Learning. Submitted.

Akam, T, Costa RM, Dayan P (2015). Simple Plans or Sophisticated Habits? State, Transition and Learning Interactions in the Two-step Task. PLoS Comp. Bio., In Press.

Santos F, Jin X, Oliveira, R, Costa RM. (2015). Corticostriatal dynamics encode the refinement of behavioral variability during skill learning. eLife doi:10.7554/eLife.09423.

Cao VY, Ye Y, Mastwal S, Ren M, Coon M, Liu Q, Costa RM*, Wang KH* (2015). Motor Learning Consolidates Arc-expressing Neuronal Ensembles in Secondary Motor Cortex. Neuron, doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2015.05.022.

Tecuapetla F, Matias S, Dugue GP, Mainen ZF, Costa RM. (2014) Balanced activity in basal ganglia projection pathways is critical for contraversive movements. Nature Communications;5:4315. doi: 10.1038/ncomms5315.

Cui G, Jun SB, Jin X, Pham MD, Vogel SS, Lovinger DM, Costa RM (2014). Deep brain optical measurement of cell type-specific neural activity in mice performing an operant task. Nature Protocols, doi: 10.1038/nprot.2014.080.

Clancy KB, Koralek AC, Costa RM*, Feldman DE*, Carmena JM*. (2014). Volitional modulation of optically recorded calcium signals during neuroprosthetic learning. Nature Neuroscience, doi: 10.1038/nn.3712.

Jin X, Tecuapetla F, Costa RM (2014). Basal ganglia subcircuits distinctively encode the parsing and concatenation of action sequences. Nature Neuroscience, doi: 10.1038/nn.3632.

Gremel, CM & Costa RM (2013). Orbitofrontal and striatal circuits dynamically encode the shift between goal-directed and habitual actions. Nature Communications, doi:10.1038/ncomms3264.

Gremel CM & Costa RM (2013). Premotor cortex is critical for goal-directed actions. Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience, 7:110. doi: 10.3389/fncom.2013.00110.

Koralek AC, Costa RM, Carmena JM (2013). Temporally precise cell-specific coherence develops in corticostriatal networks during learning. Neuron, 4;79(5):865-72.

Cao VY, Ye Y, Mastwal SS, Lovinger DM, Costa RM, Wang KH. (2013). In vivo two-photon imaging of experience-dependent molecular changes in cortical neurons. J Vis Exp. 2013 Jan 5;(71). doi:pii: 50148. 10.3791/50148.

Cui, G*, Jun SB*, Jin, X, Pham, MD, Vogel SS, Lovinger DM & Costa RM. (2013) In-Vivo Optical Measurements Reveal Concurrent Activation of Striatal Direct- and Indirect-Pathway Neurons During Movement Initiation. Nature. doi: 10.1038/nature11846.

Koralek, AC*, Jin, X*, Long II, JD, Costa RM*, Carmena JM*. (2012). Corticostriatal plasticity is necessary for learning intentional neuroprosthetic skills. Nature, 483(7389):331-5. doi: 10.1038/nature10845.

Afonso C, Paixão VB, Costa, RM (2012). Chronic Toxoplasma Infection Modifies the Structure and the Risk of Host Behavior. PLoS One, 7(3):e32489.

Hilário, MR, Holloway, T, Jin, X, Costa, RM (2012). Different dorsal striatum circuits mediate action discrimination and action generalization. European Journal of Neuroscience, DOI: 10.1111/j.1460-9568.2012.08073.

French CA, Jin X, Campbell TG, Gerfen E, Groszer M, Fisher SE, Costa RM (2011). An Aetiological Foxp2 Mutation Causes Aberrant Activity and Synchrony of Striatal Circuits. Molecular Psychiatry, doi: 10.1038/mp.2011.105.

Jin X & Costa RM (2010). Start/stop signals emerge in nigrostriatal circuits during sequence learning. Nature;466(7305):457-62.

Derusso AL, Fan D, Gupta J, Shelest O, Costa RM, Yin HH (2010). Instrumental uncertainty as a determinant of behavior under interval schedules of reinforcement. Front Integr Neurosci. 28;4. pii: 17.

Venkatraman S, Jin X, Costa RM, Carmena JM (2010). Investigating neural correlates of behavior in freely behaving rodents using inertial sensors. J. Neurophysiol.104(1):569-75.

Burkhardt, J.M., Jin, X, and Costa R.M (2009). Dissociable effects of dopamine on the firing rate and synchrony of striatal ensembles. Front. Integr. Neurosci. 3:28. doi:10.3389/neuro.07.028.2009.

Dias-Ferreira, E., Sousa, J.C., Melo I., Morgado P., Mesquita, A.R., Cerqueira J.J., Costa, R.M.*, Sousa N.* (2009). Chronic stress causes frontostriatal reorganization and impairs decision making. Science; 325(5940):621-5.

Yin, H.H., Prasad-Mulcare, S., Hilario, M.R.F., Clouse, E., Davis, M. I., Lovinger, D.M.., Costa, R.M. (2009). Dynamic reorganization of striatal circuits during the acquisition and consolidation of a skill. Nature Neuroscience, 12:3.

Cui, Y., Costa R. M., Murphy G. G., Elgersma, Y., Zhu, Y., Gutmann, D.H., Parada, L.F., Mody, I., Silva A. J. (2008). Neurofibromin regulation of Ras/ERK signaling modulates GABA release and learning. Cell, 31;135(3):549-60.

Groszer, M., Keays, D.A., Deacon R.M.J., de Bono J.P., Prasad-Mulcare S., Gaub, S., Baum, M.G., French, C.A., Nicod, J., Coventry, J.A., Enard, W., Fray, M., Brown, S.D.M., Nolan, P.M., Pääbo, S., Channon, K.M., Costa, R. M., Eilers, J., Ehret, G., J., Rawlins N.P., Fisher, S.E. (2008). Impaired motor learning and synaptic plasticity in mice carrying a point mutation implicated in human speech deficits Current Biology, 18(5):354-62.

Hilario, M.R.F., Clouse, E., Yin, H.H., Costa, R.M. (2007). Endocannabinoid signaling is critical for habit formation. Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience. 1:6, doi: 10.3389/neuro.07/006.2007.

Costa, R.M., Lin, S.C., Sotnikova, T.D., Cyr, M., Gainetdinov, R.R., Caron, M.G., Nicolelis M.A.L. (2006). Rapid alterations in corticostriatal ensemble coordination during acute dopamine-dependent motor dysfunction. Neuron, 52(2):359-69.

Dzirasa, K., Ribeiro. S., Costa, R., Santos, L.M., Lin, S.C., Grosmark, A., Sotnikova, T.D., Gainetdinov, R.R., Caron, M.G., Nicolelis M.A.L. (2006). Dopaminergic Control of Sleep-Wake States. Journal of Neuroscience, 26(41):10577-89.

Costa, R.M., Gutierrez, R., Kloth, A., Coelho, M.R.P., de Araujo, I.E., Gainetdinov, R.R., Caron, M.G., Nicolelis M.A.L., Simon, S.A. (2007). Dopamine levels modulate the updating of tastant values. Genes, Brain and Behavior, 6(4):314-20.

Nagy, V., Bozdagi, O., Matynia, A., Balcerzyk, M., Okulski, P., Dzwonek, J., Costa, R.M., Silva, A. J., Kaczmarek, L., and Huntley G. W. (2006). Matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-9 is required for hippocampal late-phase LTP and memory. Journal of Neuroscience, 26: 1923-1934.

Costa, R.M., Liu, L., Nicolelis, M.A.L., Simon, S.A. (2005). Gustatory Effects of Capsaicin that are Independent of TRPV1 Receptors. Proc. ISOT XIV, Chemical Senses, 30 S1:i198-i200.

Israely, I., Costa, R.M., Silva, A.J., Kosik, K., Liu, X. (2004). Deletion of the neural specific protein Delta-Catenin leads to severe cognitive and synaptic dysfunction. Current Biology, 14(18):1657-63.

Costa, R.M.*, Cohen, D.*, Nicolelis M.A.L. (2004). Differential corticostriatal plasticity during fast and slow motor skill learning in mice. Current Biology, 14(13):1124-34.

Costa R.M., Honjo T., and Silva A.J. (2003). Learning and memory deficits in Notch mutant mice. Current Biology, 13 (15): 1348-54.

Ajay A., Costa R.M., Irvin D., Patel A., Hu H., Kornblum H., Silva A.J., O'Dell T., and Colicelli J. (2003). The RAS Effector RIN1 Modulates the Formation of Aversive Memories. Journal of Neuroscience, 23 (3): 748-757.

Costa, R.M., Federov, N.B., Kogan, J.H., Murphy, G.G., Stern, J., Ohno, M., Kucherlapati, R., Jacks, T. and Silva, A.J. (2002). Mechanism for the learning deficits in a mouse model of neurofibromatosis type 1. Nature, 415 (6871):526-30.

Givogri M.I., Costa R.M., Schonmann V., Howard S., Silva A.J., Campagnoni A.T., Bongarzone E.R. (2002) The Jagged/Notch pathway is critical for oligodendrocyte differentiation and myelination in vivo. Journal of Neuroscience Research, 67 (3):309-20.

Ohno, M., Frankland, P.W., Chen, P.A., Costa R.M. and Silva A.J. (2001). Inducible pharmacogenetic approaches to the study of learning and memory. Nature Neuroscience, 4, 1238-1243.

Costa, R.M.*, Yang, T.*, Huynh, D.P., Pulst S.M., Viskochil, D.H., Silva, A.J. and Brannan, C.I. (2001). Learning deficits, but normal development and tumor predisposition, in mice lacking exon 23a of the Neurofibromatosis type I gene. Nature Genetics, 27, 399-405.

Mayntz, M. and Costa, R. (1998). Effect of pharmacologically induced changes of ejection on suckling in Bos taurus. Physiology and Behavior, 65 (1), 151-156.

Costa, R., Mayntz, M. and Sender, G. (1998). Changes of milk compounds and fatty acid composition during suckling meals and the effect of after-stimulation on fatty acid composition in cows' milk. A pre-study. Milchwissenchaft, 53 (8), 430-434.