Dr. Bartal is a faculty member at Tel-Aviv University’s Psychology Department and School of Neuroscience. She completed her doctoral studies at the University of Chicago and her post–doctoral studies at Berkeley. Her lab researches the neurological basis of prosocial behavior, focusing on a rodent model of helping, where rats can help another rat by setting it free from a trap. Her lab employs molecular and computational tools to study this issue from the cell level, through neural networks, to behavior.
Her research focuses on understanding how the brain processes the distress and pain of others, why we experience empathy for some but not other individuals or groups, and how the decision to help others in need is computed by the brain.
Using an integrative approach that combines behavior, immunostaining and optogenetic tools, the lab examines the brain’s response to a trapped animal and during the act of helping, in order to outline the molecular pathway involved in prosocial approach. This research seeks to inform our basic understanding of the mechanism underlying social behavior and provides a translational path for developing novel therapeutic approaches for deficits in social behavior stemming from psychopathology or trauma.