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Kelvin Q. Laracuente

2023 Leon Levy Scholar

New York University, Langone Medical Center


New York University, Langone Medical Center (Advisor: Dr. Robert Froemke)

Sub-disciplinary Category

Cognitive & Behavioral Neuroscience

Previous Positions

  • BS, University of Puerto Rico
  • MD, University of Puerto Rico
  • PhD, University of Puerto Rico (Advisor: Dr. Gregory Quirk)


Kelvin aims to explore how individuals socialize and understand each other. He pursued an MD/PhD at the University of Puerto Rico under the mentorship of Dr. Greg Quirk, followed by a psychiatry residency at NYU Langone and continued scientific training with Dr. Robert Froemke. In the wards and clinics of New York City, Kelvin observed social dysfunction symptoms that were prevalent across psychiatric illnesses. He now employs the knowledge gathered from these clinical settings to develop models that can enhance our understanding of social behavior and facilitate improvements in social functioning.

Research Summary

The neural circuitry of how we perceive visual social signals and how it relates to and integrates with other somatic sensory social input to shape social awareness.

Technical Overview

For most species, social awareness is necessary for safe and healthy social interactions, and thus, is essential for survival. This is especially the case for humans. Laracuente’s research program aims to examine sensory input and the subsequent activation of specific brain regions in the mouse to construct a model for social awareness and behavior.  He uses cutting edge methodologies such as in vivoelectrophysiology and circuit manipulations to examine how visual-social input activates oxytocin neurons, how other sensory input (i.e. auditory, olfactory, somatic) is integrated in to this circuit, and how social isolation affects the model.  Understanding this neural circuitry may have serious clinical implications as almost all psychiatric disorders feature symptoms relating to social dysfunction (for example, reduced interactions with depressive disorders, avoiding others in social anxiety disorder).  Interventions that focus on healthy social interactions have been proven to be incredibly beneficial in treating a variety of mental disorders. Thus, understanding neural mechanisms of social awareness will provide novel, critical information for the prevention and treatment of such illnesses.