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Rachel Crupi
Coordinator

Center for Neuroscience & Behavior 4400 Massachusetts Avenue NW Washington, DC 20016 United States

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Research at the Center for Neuroscience and Behavior

The members of the Center for Neuroscience and Behavior strive to achieve the highest standards for research on the processes and substrates that underlie normal behavior as well as the pathologies that lead to behavioral dysfunction. There is little doubt about the importance of this work. Disorders of the brain and behavior, including obesity, depression, addiction, and cognitive dementia, are currently among the most costly, pernicious, and widespread threats to human health and quality of life. To address these and other important problems, the members of the Center for Neuroscience and Behavior have joined together to form a hub of research excellence that encompasses four broad and interrelated research themes. Consistent with a multi-disciplinary perspective, many of the Center's members have research programs that span more than one of these areas.

Behavioral Excess

The term "behavioral excess" refers to (a) otherwise normal behaviors that become maladaptive due to the high frequency or intensity at which they are performed, or (b) classes of behaviors that are considered maladaptive and potentially harmful whenever they occur. Excessive food and beverage intake leading to obesity or metabolic disease, the use of illicit drugs or overuse of other substances (such as tobacco and alcohol), and obsessive-compulsive disorders are examples of behavioral excess that are the focus of research by faculty and students affiliated with the Center for Neuroscience and Behavior. Special emphasis is placed on metabolic and neurohormonal controls of intake; genetic and epigenetic mediation of behavioral pathology; the role of learning and expectancy mechanisms in drug abuse; and effects of dietary factors on brain inflammation, blood-brain barrier integrity, and hippocampal-dependent forms of behavioral and memory inhibition.

Cognitive & Sensory Bases of Behavior

Scientists at the Center for Neuroscience and Behavior also work on understanding cognitive and sensory processes involved with the detection of environmental events, the abstraction of relations among those events, and the encoding and utilization of information derived from those events and relations. Research emphases by Center members include the contributions of the cerebellum to cognitive and motor learning in both normal development and in clinical and developmental disorders; neural mechanisms that underlie the suppression of memory interference and factors that weaken such suppression; cognitive processes in language comprehension; neuropsychological assessments of brain development and plasticity; and the role of contrast, color, motion, and retinal receptor density in perception and visual information processing.

Emotional Health

Emotional health refers to a person's overall sense of well-being, including their level of confidence in their ability to deal with the problems that may confront them. Stress, depression, and anxiety are all challenges to a person's emotional health. These challenges are being addressed by scientists affiliated with the Center for Neuroscience and Behavior. Center researchers are investigating links between emotional health and the tendency to engage in maladaptive behaviors (e.g., smoking, excessive eating, caffeine intake, and alcohol consumption) and the cognitive appraisal of those behaviors; socio-cultural differences in the origins and display of anxiety symptoms; and the association of coping strategies and reactivity to stress with the development and maintenance of depressive symptoms. Much of this research seeks to increase the effectiveness of therapeutic interventions that are designed to improve emotional health.

Modulation of Structure/Function Relations

In biologically intact animals, higher levels of complexity in the nervous system are accompanied by greater levels of behavioral flexibility. Thus, for humans and other species that are located near the high end of this complexity continuum, the direction, intensity, frequency, and persistence of behavior depend on more than the specific environmental events that are encountered. Behavior also depends on how experiences with those events, during development and throughout the lifespan, interact with multiple neurohormonal signaling pathways. Researchers in the Center for Neuroscience and Behavior study how experience, physiology, and behavior are intertwined. A focus of much of this work is on how hormones protect and modulate activity in brain structures and circuits that underlie regulatory, reproductive, sensory, and cognitive functions. These functions enable animals to exhibit flexibility in broad classes of behavior.

Recent Publications

Davidson, T.L., Ramirez, E., Kwarteng, E.A. et al. Retrieval-induced forgetting in children and adolescents with and without obesity. Int J Obes 46, 851–858 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41366-021-01036-5

Davidson, T.L., Stevenson, R.J. Appetitive interoception, the hippocampus and western-style diet. Rev Endocr Metab Disord 23, 845–859 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11154-021-09698-2

McCarthy, E., Dunn, J., Augustine, K., & Connaughton, V. P. (2022). Prolonged Hyperglycemia Causes Visual and Cognitive Deficits in Danio rerio. International journal of molecular sciences, 23(17), 10167. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms231710167

Costanzi, Stefano, Slavick, Charlotte K., Abides, Joyce M., Koblentz, Gregory D., Vecellio, Mary and Cupitt, Richard T.. "Supporting the fight against the proliferation of chemical weapons through cheminformatics" Pure and Applied Chemistry, vol. 94, no. 7, 2022, pp. 783-798. https://doi.org/10.1515/pac-2021-1107

Taouk, L., Schulkin, J., & Gunthert, K. (2022). Brief report: the moderating effect of stress mindsets on associations between stress during pregnancy and symptoms of depression and anxiety. Anxiety, stress, and coping, 35(3), 313–322. https://doi.org/10.1080/10615806.2021.1967937

Kirkland, A. E., Baron, M., VanMeter, J. W., Baraniuk, J. N., & Holton, K. F. (2022). The low glutamate diet improves cognitive functioning in veterans with Gulf War Illness and resting-state EEG potentially predicts response. Nutritional neuroscience, 25(11), 2247–2258. https://doi.org/10.1080/1028415X.2021.1954292

Gustafsson, H. C., Dunn, G. A., Mitchell, A. J., Holton, K. F., Loftis, J. M., Nigg, J. T., & Sullivan, E. L. (2022). The association between heightened ADHD symptoms and cytokine and fatty acid concentrations during pregnancy. Frontiers in psychiatry, 13, 855265. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2022.855265

Kaidbey, J. H., Ferguson, K., Halberg, S. E., Racke, C., Visek, A. J., Gearhardt, A. N., Juliano, L. M., Dietz, W. H., Sacheck, J., & Sylvetsky, A. C. (2022). Stop the Pop: A Mixed-Methods Study Examining Children's Physical and Emotional Responses during Three Days of Sugary Drink Cessation. Nutrients, 14(7), 1328. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu14071328

Kearns, D.N. The complexity of drug choice: rats prefer alcohol over social interaction. Neuropsychopharmacol. (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41386-022-01469-0

Kelley, M. B., Geddes, T. J., Ochiai, M., Lampl, N. M., Kothmann, W. W., Fierstein, S. R., Kent, V., & DeCicco-Skinner, K. (2022). Loss of Tpl2 activates compensatory signaling and resistance to EGFR/MET dual inhibition in v-RAS transduced keratinocytes. PloS one, 17(3), e0266017. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0266017

White, S. R., & Laubach, M. (2022). The rostral medial frontal cortex is crucial for engagement in consummatory behavior. Behavioral neuroscience, 136(6), 551–560. https://doi.org/10.1037/bne0000523

Riley, A. L., Manke, H. N., & Huang, S. (2022). Impact of the Aversive Effects of Drugs on Their Use and Abuse. Behavioural neurology, 2022, 8634176. https://doi.org/10.1155/2022/8634176

Schlinger, B. A., Remage-Healey, L., & Saldanha, C. J. (2022). The form, function, and evolutionary significance of neural aromatization. Frontiers in neuroendocrinology, 64, 100967. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.yfrne.2021.100967

Kaufmann, A., & Haaga, D. A. F. (2023). Modifying outcome expectancies and behavioral reinforcers to induce quit attempts among young adult smokers. Addictive behaviors, 137, 107542. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.addbeh.2022.107542

Long, A. D., & Herr, N. R. (2022). Narcissism, Empathy, and Rape Myth Acceptance Among Heterosexual College Males. Archives of sexual behavior, 51(5), 2373–2383. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-021-02256-6

Bayet, L., Saville, A., & Balas, B. (2021). Sensitivity to face animacy and inversion in childhood: Evidence from EEG data. Neuropsychologia, 156, 107838. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2021.107838

Tatz, J. R., Peynircioğlu, Z. F., & Brent, W. (2020). Face-voice space: Integrating visual and auditory cues in judgments of person distinctiveness. Attention, perception & psychophysics, 82(7), 3710–3727. https://doi.org/10.3758/s13414-020-02084-1

Fantie, B. D., Kosmidis, M. H., Giannakou, M., Moza, S., Karavatos, A., & Bozikas, V. P. (2018). What Is Going On? The Process of Generating Questions about Emotion and Social Cognition in Bipolar Disorder and Schizophrenia with Cartoon Situations and Faces. Brain sciences, 8(4), 68. https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci8040068

Tatz, J. R., Undorf, M., & Peynircioğlu, Z. F. (2021). Effect of impoverished information on multisensory integration in judgments of learning. Journal of experimental psychology. Learning, memory, and cognition, 47(3), 481–497. https://doi.org/10.1037/xlm0000953

Maganti, N., Squires, N., Mishra, S., Bomdica, P., Nigam, D., Shapiro, A., Gill, M. K., Lyon, A. T., & Mirza, R. G. (2022). Contrast Sensitivity Testing in Age-Related Macular Degeneration Using Motion Diamond Stimulus. Clinical ophthalmology (Auckland, N.Z.), 16, 507–515. https://doi.org/10.2147/OPTH.S342188

Rice, L. C., D'Mello, A. M., & Stoodley, C. J. (2021). Differential Behavioral and Neural Effects of Regional Cerebellar tDCS. Neuroscience, 462, 288–302. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroscience.2021.03.008

Stoodley, C. J., & Tsai, P. T. (2021). Adaptive Prediction for Social Contexts: The Cerebellar Contribution to Typical and Atypical Social Behaviors. Annual review of neuroscience, 44, 475–493. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-neuro-100120-092143

Slobogean, G. P., Gaski, G. E., Nascone, J., Sciadini, M. F., Natoli, R. M., Manson, T. T., Lebrun, C., McKinley, T., Virkus, W. W., Sorkin, A. T., Brown, K., Howe, A., Rudnicki, J., Enobun, B., O'Hara, N. N., Gill, J., & O'Toole, R. V. (2021). A Prospective Clinical Trial Comparing Surgical Fixation Versus Nonoperative Management of Minimally Displaced Complete Lateral Compression Pelvis Fractures. Journal of orthopaedic trauma, 35(11), 592–598. https://doi.org/10.1097/BOT.0000000000002088

Liao, C., Sawayama, M., & Xiao, B. (2022). Crystal or jelly? Effect of color on the perception of translucent materials with photographs of real-world objects. Journal of vision, 22(2), 6. https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.22.2.6

Asalone, K. C., Takkar, A. K., Saldanha, C. J., & Bracht, J. R. (2021). A Transcriptomic Pipeline Adapted for Genomic Sequence Discovery of Germline-Restricted Sequence in Zebra Finch, Taeniopygia guttata. Genome biology and evolution, 13(6), evab088. https://doi.org/10.1093/gbe/evab088

Bonan, N. F., Kowalski, D., Kudlac, K., Flaherty, K., Gwilliam, J. C., Falkenberg, L. G., Maradiaga, E., & DeCicco-Skinner, K. L. (2019). Inhibition of HGF/MET signaling decreases overall tumor burden and blocks malignant conversion in Tpl2-related skin cancer. Oncogenesis, 8(1), 1. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41389-018-0109-8

Plotkin, B., & Konaklieva, M. (2022). Impact of host factors on susceptibility to antifungal agents. ADMET & DMPK, 10(2), 153–162. https://doi.org/10.5599/admet.1164

Pascale, C. M., & Schaeff, C. M. (2018). Juniper Subtle Energy Healing: A Case Study. Explore (New York, N.Y.), 14(6), 424–429. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.explore.2018.04.011

Liu, F. A., Ardabili, N., Brown, I., Rafi, H., Cook, C., Nikopoulou, R., Lopez, A., Zou, S., Hartings, M. R., & Zestos, A. G. (2022). Modified Sawhorse Waveform for the Voltammetric Detection of Oxytocin. Journal of the Electrochemical Society, 169, 017512. https://doi.org/10.1149/1945-7111/ac4aae

Macdonald, K., Germine, L., Anderson, A., Christodoulou, J., & McGrath, L. M. (2017). Dispelling the Myth: Training in Education or Neuroscience Decreases but Does Not Eliminate Beliefs in Neuromyths. Frontiers in psychology, 8, 1314. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01314

Kelly, N. R., Cotter, E. W., Williamson, G., Guidinger, C., Fotang, J., Crosby, R. D., & Cao, L. (2022). Loss of control may uniquely predict negative affect among the disinhibited eating experiences of high-risk young men. Eating behaviors, 47, 101674. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eatbeh.2022.101674

McClave, R., Snelling, A. M., Hawkins, M., & Irvine Belson, S. (2022). Healthy Schoolhouse 2.0 Strides toward Equity in Obesity Prevention. Childhood obesity (Print), 10.1089/chi.2022.0024. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1089/chi.2022.0024

Peterson, E. G., Weinberger, A. B., Uttal, D. H., Kolvoord, B., & Green, A. E. (2020). Spatial activity participation in childhood and adolescence: consistency and relations to spatial thinking in adolescence. Cognitive research: principles and implications, 5(1), 43. https://doi.org/10.1186/s41235-020-00239-0

Core Research Facilities

Culture of rat neurons

The Center's Confocal Microscopy Core Facility enables 3-D visualization of cells and structures in the nervous system as represented in this image of neurons derived from the hippocampus, a brain structure important for memory.

An Echo-MRI magnetic resonance imaging machine permits rapid, whole body scans of live, awake rats and mice to assess fat mass, lean tissue, and fluid composition without stressing or compromising the behavioral competence of the animals.

Center scientists also have a state-of-the-art core facility for optogenetic interrogation of neurons and neural circuits by using laser and LEDs to activate or deactivate neurons at the highest degree of temporal and spatial resolution.

The Cognitive Neuroscience Core Facility enables Center researchers to study the human brain and nervous system with advanced electroencephalography (EEG), galvanic skin response (GSR), and other techniques.