Connecting European Neuroscience

Eero Castren

Secretary General (2018-2020)


1983 MD, University of Kuopio, Finland

1989 PhD, University of Kuopio, Finland

1986-89 Postdoctoral Fellow, Laboratory of Clinical Science, NIMH, NIH, Bethesda, MD.

1990-92 Postdoctoral Fellow, Max Planck Institute for Psychiatry, Martinsried, Germany

1992-94 Staff Scientist, Max Planck Institute for Psychiatry, Martinsried, Germany

1995-03 Research Director, Professor, A. I. Virtanen Institute, University of Kuopio

2003-12 Sigrid Juselius Professor of Neuroscience, Neuroscience Center, University of Helsinki

2011 Visiting Scholar, Columbia University, New York, USA

2013- Director, Professor, Neuroscience Center, University of Helsinki

Honours and awards

1986-89 Visiting Fellowship, Fogarty International Center

1990 Best thesis award, the Finnish Society of Pharmacology

1990-92 Fellowship, Alexander von Humbold Foundation, Germany

2004- Member, Finnish Academy of Science and Letters

2011 Schaefer Scholarship, Columbia University, New York

2012 Fellow, European College of Neuropsychopharmacology

2013-18 Advanced Investigator Grant, European Research Council

2014- Member, The European Dana Alliance for the Brain

General administrative and organisational experience

1989-2003 Vice-Director, A. I. Virtanen Institute, University of Kuopio

2002-03 Chairman, Department of Neuroscience, University of Kuopio

2000-03 Director, Kuopio University Neuroscience Center

2003-06 President, Finnish Brain Research Society

2005- Member, Scientific Advisory Panel, European College of Neuropsychopharmacology

2007-09 Member, Scientific Council, University of Helsinki

2007- Member, Scientific advisory board, ERA-Net NEURON programme, European Union

2010 Chairman, 10th International Conference on Neurotrophic factors, Helsinki Finland

2011- Member, Programme Committee, European College of Neuropsychopharmacology

2013- Director, Neuroscience Center, University of Helsinki

2014- Member, Senate of the University of Helsinki

Research interests

My research has focused on the effects of neuronal plasticity and neurotrophic factors, particularly the brain-derived neurotrophic factor BDNF, on the adult brain and their role in the mechanism of action of drugs acting on the central nervous system. We have demonstrated that antidepressant drugs activate BDNF signalling in brain and that antidepressant treatment reactivates critical period-type plasticity in the rat visual cortex. We further showed that fluoxetine reactivates developmental plasticity in the fear-conditioning network. These discoveries may explain the better efficacy of combined antidepressant treatment and psychotherapy and provide direct evidence for the network hypothesis of antidepressant action that I have previously proposed.


1. Saarelainen T., Hendolin P., Koponen E., Lucas G., MacDonald E., Agerman K., Haapasalo A., Nawa H., Ernfors

P., Aloyz R. and Castrén E. Activation of the trkB neurotrophin receptor is induced by antidepressant drugs and is required for antidepressant-induced behavioral effects. J. Neurosci. 23 :349-357, 2003.

2. Sairanen M., Lucas G., Ernfors P., Castrén M, and Castrén E. BDNF and antidepressant drugs have different but coordinated effects on neuronal turnover, proliferation and survival in the adult dentate gyrus. J. Neurosci. 25: 1089-1094, 2005.

3. Castrén E. Is mood chemistry? Nature Rev. Neurosci. 6: 241-246, 2005.

4. Rantamäki T., Hendolin P., Kankaanpää A., Mijatovic J., Piepponen P., Domenici E., Chao M. V., Männistö P. T. and Castrén E. Pharmacologically diverse antidepressants rapidly activate Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) receptor trkB and induce phospholipase-Cγ signaling pathways in mouse brain. Neuropsychopharmacology, 32: 2152–2162, 2007.

5. Maya Vetencourt JF, Sale A, Viegi A, Baroncelli L., De Pasquale R, O’Leary OF, Castrén E. and Maffei L. The antidepressant fluoxetine restores plasticity in the adult visual cortex. Science, 320, 385-388, 2008.

6. Karpova N. N., Pickenhagen A., Lindholm J., Tiraboschi E., Kulesskaya N., Ágústsdóttir A., Antila H., Popova D., Akamine Y., Sullivan R., Hen R., Drew L. J. and Castrén E. Fear erasure in mouse requres synergy between antidepressant drug treatment and exposure therapy. Science 334:1731-1734, 2011.

7. Maya-Vetencourt J. F., Tiraboschi E., Greco D., Laura Restani L., Cerri C., Auvinen P., Maffei L., and Castrén E. Experience-dependent NPAS4 expression mediates plasticity in adult visual cortex. J. Physiol 590: 4777-87, 2012.

8. Castrén E., and Hen, R. : Neuronal Plasticity and Antidepressant Effects. Trends Neurosci. 36: 259-267, 2013.

9. Andressoo J. -O., Kopra J., Grealish S., Amberg C., Varendi K., Lindholm J., Castrén E., Võikar V., Björklund A., Piepponen P., Saarma M. GDNF is not required for catecholaminergic neuron survival in vivo. Nature Neurosci. 18: 319-22. doi: 10.1038/nn. 3941, 2015.

10. Guirado R., Umemori J., Sipilä P. and Castrén E. Evidence for competition for target innervation in the medial prefrontal cortex. Cerebral cortex 26: 1287–1294, doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhv280, 2016.

Eero Castren

Professor, Director
Neuroscience Center, University of Helsinki
P. O. Box 56, 00014 Helsinki, Finland.