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Behavioral Neuroscience

research concentrations

Area Contact: Gorica Petrovich—Neurobiology of motivation and feeding behavior; functional organization of the brain systems mediating environmental control of food intake, specifically interactions between the amygdala, prefrontal cortex, and hypothalamus; modulation of hunger and satiety mechanisms by learning and stress.

John Christianson—The focus of John Christianson's research is to determine how stress interacts with the neural systems that permit individuals to adapt to potentially dangerous and changing environments. The current emphasis is on the neural mechanisms that underly safety learning. The laboratory employs a multidisciplinary approach to study brain circuits and behavior including sophisticated behavioral paradigms, electrophysiology and optogenetics. The overall goal is to provide new insight into the organization of the brain and behavior and improve treatment for psychological illness.

Michael McDannald—Neural circuits in associative learning; neural basis for predicting the presence and absence of aversive events and how adverse experience early in life alter these predictive abilities in adulthood, focusing on interactions between monoaminergic systems, the amygdala and ventral striatum; common neural encoding of the presence of rewards and the absence of aversive events.

Alexa Veenema—Stress and Social Behavior: understanding the neurobiological regulation of social behaviors (play-fighting, aggression, social cognition, and social anxiety), modulation of social behaviors by early life stress, role of neuropeptides (vasopressin,oxytocin) in social behaviors.

For information on the Neuroscience Ph.D. track, see this description in the Graduate Program Handbook.