Winter 2021 Colloquia


March 26 - Foster Oliver, Professor and Director of Behavioral Neuroscience Graduate Studies, Department of Psychology, Arizona State University

Early Life Rearing Conditions and Their Effects on Motivation for Heroin

Opiate abuse and addiction has reached epidemic levels in recent years. While much attention on the opiate crisis has been given to the contributing roles of prescription opiate abuse, fentanyl derivatives, and other societal issues, the role of early life stress and the neural mechanisms by which it increases susceptibility to opioid use disorders have not been adequately studied. Maternal neglect and maltreatment during early life adversely affects brain development in exposed children, which in adulthood can lead to stress hyper-responsivity and increased propensity for mental illness. Early life stress can be modeled in rodents by the limited bedding and nesting (LBN) paradigm, where mothers of newborn pups are provided insufficient material for nesting during the first two weeks of postnatal life, resulting in maternal distress and dysregulated care of the offspring. As a result, compared to offspring of mothers provided with adequate nesting material, offspring of LBN-exposed mothers show a phenotype in adulthood characterized by stress hyper-responsivity, dysregulated emotional processing, propensity towards negative affect, and increased drug intake and/or drug-seeking behavior. The studies discussed in this presentation will show that LBN exposure produces elevated heroin seeking under conditions of increased behavioral demand (i.e., progressive ratio conditions), impaired extinction of heroin seeking, and increased magnitude of reinstatement of heroin seeking upon re-exposure to heroin-associated environmental and drug cues. Potential neural circuits underlying these effects will also be explored.


April 9 - Kesong Hu, Assistant Professor, School of Kinesiology and Behavioral Sciences Lake Superior State University

The Influences of Emotion and motivation on perception and cognition

At a basic level, behavior can be understood in terms of two general classes of motivational processes: appetitive and aversive. Everyone agrees that both positive and negative processes are important, yet scientists still do not know much how these processes affect perception and cognition. In this talk, I will introduce my recent work on the role of affective motivational states in perception and cognition. I leverage recent methodological advances to enhance our understanding of emotion-perception, emotion-cognition integration and interaction. In particular, I will present behavioral, physiological and neuroimaging evidence showing how gain and loss (averted loss) influence earlier perceptual processing, and how simultaneous reward and threat interact in cognition. I close by discussing the clinical implications of my work, and how my studies can help understand the mechanisms that potentially go awry in mental illness.


April 16 - Sean Mooney-Leber (University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point)


April 23 - Paul Andronis (Northern Michigan University)