Psychobiology Lab


We are a behavioral and systems neuroscience lab investigating the neuronal basis of fear memory, depression and anxiety. We utilize different anatomical, electrophysiological and behavioral techniques in rats and mice to study specific neuronal subcircuits and differential functions of several basal forebrain nuclei, the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST), suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), amygdala and hippocampus in the aforementioned affective/cognitive processes. 


We are a large group with many undergraduate and graduate students from diverse academic backgrounds. See below (Vacancies) If you are interested in joining our scientific endeavor for a short-term training or a graduate study at Boğaziçi University.


The Psychobiology Laboratory, established by Reşit Canbeyli in 1994, was the first research laboratory to use rodents in Turkey. A recent book by Prof. Canbeyli, published in Turkish, details the foundation of our laboratory by illustrating unique hardships of setting up a pioneering research lab as well as the immense progress made in the field of science in Turkey (ISBN: 9786054787760).



  • Assistant ProfessoGüneş Ünal, Principal Investigator  

  • Professor Emeritus Reşit Canbeyli, Former PI                                         

Graduate Students
  • Alev Ecevitoğlu, Psychobiology
  • Aybeniz Ece Çetin, Cognitive Psychology
  • Nilay Ateşyakar, Psychobiology

Undergraduate Students
  • Tuğçe Tuna, Psychology
  • Gülberk Bayraktar, Chemical Engineering
  • Merve Akan, Chemistry
  • Rabia Koç, Psychology
  • Elif Gizem Kain, Psychology
  • Merve Müge Durmuş, Psychology
  • Emirhan Albayrak, Psychology
  • Betül Tamer, English Language & Literature
  • Melissa Pranic, MBG & Psychology (Bahçeşehir University)
  • Nehir Uçar, Psychology (Bahçeşehir University)




Asst. Prof. Ünal is always seeking for interested and smart graduate students. In order to carry out graduate-level studies in our group, you can choose to apply to the Department of Psychology for an M.A. in Psychological Sciences or to the Boğaziçi University Cognitive Science (M.A.) Program. It is recommended that you contact Asst. Prof. Ünal ( before you place an application to discuss your specific interest and plans. 

If you are a current or recent undergraduate student interested in neuroscience, you can apply for a 1-3 months summer internship in our lab. You can study towards any degree (medicine, engineering, psychology, MBG, etc.) but you must be on your junior/3rd year or above, having successfully completed an introductory neuroscience course. If you are eligible, please e-mail your CV (1), transcript (2) and a single-page statement of purpose (3) to In addition, 2 letters of recommendation must be e-mailed to directly by your faculty (4 & 5). All application documents must be received by May 1st to be considered for the upcoming summer term. 

Research Areas


Basal Forebrain Modulation of Acute and Chronic Fear

Basal forebrain nuclei send cholinergic, glutamatergic, GABAergic and peptidergic projections to several limbic structures underlying diverse forms of memory and affective processes. Combining tract-tracing and immunohistochemistry, we are investigating specific basal forebrain neuronal groups innervating different nuclei of the amygdala and the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST). We aim to chemogenetically test the function these particular basal forebrain-limbic system projections in several behavioral paradigms. 

Involvement of the Suprachiasmatic Nucleus in Affective and Cognitive Processes 

Disruption of biological rhythms can have negative consequences for mood and cognitive functions. Our studies investigate the effects of bilateral damage to the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), a key regulator of circadian rhythms, in male and female rats on behavioral despair, anxiety and navigational learning.

Environmental Enrichment 

Rodent models of environmental enrichment are well-known to increase performance in hippocampal forms of learning. However, the behavioral effects sof this paradigm is not clear concerning animal models of depression. Some studies report amelorative effects while other point to an increase in depressive behavior in Porsolt Forced Swim Test (FST). We aim to differentiate the limbic circuits modified by environmental enrichment and understand their differential roles. 

Antidepressant Effects of Ketamine 

We showed that an anesthetic dose of ketamine, a dissociative non-competitive N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) antagonist, has a prolonged ameliorative effect on behavioral despair, an animal model of depression. We are currently testing the potential ameliorative effect of different doses of ketamine in a recently developed model of depression, namely the Open Space Swimming Test.

Differential Role of the BNST on Animal Models of Depression and Anxiety

Our laboratory was one of the first groups to show that the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST), a limbic structure mediating chronic stress response via the HPA axis, is involved in behavioral despair. A study in progress aims to generalize our findings by investigating the potential involvement of the BNST in a different animal model of depression, the Open Space Swim Test in both female and male Wistar rats. 

Ameliorative Effects of Light on Behavioral Despair/Depression

Our laboratory showed that a single 12-hour exposure to light during the dark phase of a 12h Light - 12h Dark cycle has an ameliorative effect on behavioral despair. Ongoing research aims to discover the parameters of photic stimulation that will optimize the ameliorative effect of light on depression.

Adaptive Brain-Machine Interface Algorithms

We investigate the spiking patterns in neural ensembles of rat brain in vivo to develop our comprehending of synaptic plasticity in rat motor cortex and advance more efficient Brain Machine Interface algorithms by means of combining machine learning and computational neuroscience. We developed a fully open source real-time data acquisition and visualization program for brain-machine interface applications. The program is designed on Linux operating system with RTAI (Real-Time Application Interface, extension, and the drivers and libraries developed by the COMEDI Project (Linux Control and Measurement Devices Interface, are used for facilitating management of the data acquisition hardware (National Instruments PCI-6070E). 



Unal G, Crump MG, Viney TJ, Éltes T, Katona L, Klausberger T, Somogyi P. (2018). Spatio-temporal specialization of GABAergic septo-hippocampal neurons for rhythmic network activity. Brain Struct Funct. DOI: 10.1007/s00429-018-1626-0. 

Soyman E, Yilmaz GD, Canbeyli R. (2018). Head-turning asymmetry: A novel lateralization in rats predicts susceptibility to behavioral despair. Behav Brain Res. 15(338), 47-50.

Soyman E, Tunckol E, Lacin E, Canbeyli R. (2015). Right-but not left-paw use in female rats provides advantage in forced swim tests. Behav Brain Res. 15(293), 162-165.      

Kocaturk M, Gulcur HO, Canbeyli R. (2015). Toward building hybrid biological/in silico neural networks for motor neuroprosthetic controlFront Neurorobotics. DOI: 10.3389/fnbot.2015.00008. 

İyilikci O, Aydın E, Canbeyli R. (2009). Blue but not red light stimulation in the dark has antidepressant effect in behavioral despair. Behavioral Brain Research.27(6), 395-401.

Schulz D, Aksoy A, Canbeyli R. (2008). Behavioral despair is differentially affected by the length and timing of photic stimulation in the dark phase of an L/D cycle. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry, 32(5),1257-62

Pezuk P, Aydin E, Aksoy A, Canbeyli R. (2008). Effects of BNST lesions in female rats on forced swimming and navigational learning.Brain Research.1228,199-207.

Pezuk P, Goz D, Aksoy A, Canbeyli R. (2006). BNST lesions aggravate behavioral despair but do not impair navigational learning in rats. Brain Res Bull, 69(4), 416-21.

Yilmaz A, Aksoy A, Canbeyli R. (2004). A single day of constant light (L/L) provides immunity to behavioral despair in female rats maintained on an L/D cycle. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry, 28(8), 1261-5.

Aksoy A, Schulz D, Yilmaz A, Canbeyli R.(2004). Seasonal variability in behavioral despair in female rats. Int J Neurosci, 114(12), 1513-20

Aydemir N, Ozkara C, Canbeyli R, Tekcan A. (2004). Changes in quality of life and self-perspective related to surgery in patients with temporal lobe epilepsy. Epilepsy Behav, 5(5), 735-42.

Bozkulak O, Tabakoglu HO, Aksoy A, Kurtkaya O, Sav A, Canbeyli R, Gulsoy M. (2004). The 980-nm diode laser for brain surgery: histopathology and recovery period. Lasers Med Sci, 19(1), 41-7.

Bulduk S, Canbeyli R. (2004). Effect of inescapable tones on behavioral despair in Wistar rats. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry, 28(3), 471-5.

Tataroglu O, Aksoy A, Yilmaz A, Canbeyli R. (2004). Effect of lesioning the suprachiasmatic nuclei on behavioral despair in rats. Brain Res. 1001(1-2), 118-24.

Cemalcilar Z, Canbeyli R, Sunar D. (2003). Learned helplessness, therapy, and personality traits: an experimental study.J Soc Psychol, 143(1), 65-81.

Yilmaz A, Schulz D, Aksoy A, Canbeyli R. (2002). Prolonged effect of an anesthetic dose of ketamine on behavioral despair. Pharmacol Biochem Behav, 71, 341-4.

Gülsoy, M., Çelikel, T. A., Kurt, A., Canbeyli, R. & Çilesiz, İ. (2001). Er: YAG laser ablation of cerebral tissue. Lasers in Medical Science, 16, 40-43.

Schulz, D. & Canbeyli, R. (2000). Lesions of the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis enhances learned despair. Brain Research Bulletin, 52(2), 83-87.

Gülsoy, M., Çelikel, T., Kurtkaya, Ö., Sav, A., Kurt, A., Canbeyli, R. & Çilesiz, İ. (2000). Stereotaxic Use of the 980nm Diode Laser in Rat Cortical and Subcortical Tissues, in Clinical Lasers and Diagnostics, Proceedings of the SPIE, 243-246.

Gülsoy, M., Çelikel, T., Kurtkaya, Ö., Sav, A., Kurt, A., Canbeyli, R. & Çilesiz, İ. (1999). Application of the 980 nm diode laser in stereotaxic surgery. IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Quantum Electronics on Lasers in Medicine and Biology, 5(4), 1090-1094.

Schulz, D. & Canbeyli, R. (1999). Freezing behavior in BNST-lesioned Wistar rats. J. F. McGinty (Ed.) Advancing from the ventral striatum to the extended amygdala: Implications for neuropsychiatry and drug abuse. New York Academy of Sciences, 877, 728-731.


Contact Info

Boğaziçi Üniversitesi, Mühendislik Fakültesi, Psikobiyoloji Laboratuvarı, 34342 Bebek, İSTANBUL

E-mail: / Phone: +90 212 359 7334



Psychobiology LaboratoryPsychobiology LaboratoryPsychobiology Laboratory