Héctor J. Caruncho

Hector J. Caruncho is a tenured full professor and Canada Research Chair in Translational Neuroscience in the Division of Medical Sciences at the University of Victoria. He also holds a position as Affiliate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of British Columbia, and as Adjunct Professor of the College of Pharmacy and Nutrition at the University of Saskatchewan. Prior to these appointments, he was a full professor of Pharmacy at the University of Saskatchewan (2013-2017), and a Faculty member for twenty years in the Department of Cell Biology at the University of Santiago de Compostela in Spain (1994-2013). He also held an adjunct position in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Illinois at Chicago (1996-2002). From 1992-1994 he was a Research Assistant professor at Georgetown University, and from 1990-1992 held a Fulbright postdoctoral scholarship at the National Institute of Health. His academic credentials include a Bachelor of Science degree (Biology), Master of Science degree (Cell Biology), and a PhD degree (Cell Biology) all of them from the University of Santiago de Compostela in Spain. He also has a diploma in Business Administration from the School of Industrial Organization (Madrid, Spain).

Dr. Caruncho has made important contributions in different fields in Neuroscience since 1990. While his initial research focused on the comparative neuroanatomy of the fish brain, he later moved to studies on the molecular biology and pharmacology of GABAA receptors; animal models of neuromotor disorders; and, lately, to the neurobiology of schizophrenia and depression, including the development of biomarkers and discovery of novel drug targets in mood and psychotic disorders. He has been awarded research funding from Spanish agencies, the European Union, the US, and Canada. He has served in numerous grant committees in Spain, the European Union, and Canada. In addition, he has been very active in outreach activities, including talking to the public media and engaging with several associations of patients with psychiatric disorders.

LECTURE: Auditory hallucinations, thought, language and communication in schizophrenia

Recent approaches have proposed to primarily conceptualize schizophrenia as a disorder of language pathology (see Hinzen & Rossello, Front. Psychol. 2015. 6:971). The present talk will critically review the data underlying the hypothesis that the main positive symptoms of schizophrenia can be interpreted as disorders of language perception (auditory hallucinations), of uncontrolled language production (thought disorder), or abnormal linguistic content (delusions).

The second part of the talk will focus on the discussion of the functional roles of the extracellular matrix protein Reelin (which is downregulated but about one half in schizophrenia brains) and how dampened neural plasticity mediated by Reelin downregulation can result in an imbalance between Glutamatergic and GABAergic systems in specific brain regions.

The third part of the talk will bring a synthesis of the first two parts and will also discuss how these alterations can affect the negative symptoms of schizophrenia.

The final/conclusion part will summarize how studies on pathological states can inform the neurobiology of language.