Behavioral Neuroscience

Faculty in this area represent a wide variety of interests but share a common concern for understanding the interrelationships between behavior and biological functions. 

About The Behavioral Neuroscience Program

The explosive growth of information and interests in the field of behavioral neuroscience frequently necessitates multidisciplinary study. Thus, students are encouraged to gain familiarity with anatomical, biochemical, molecular, and electrophysiological bases for a wide range of behaviors including sensation, motor control, reproduction, learning, memory, cognition, communication. Although the use of animals as subjects for basic research on learning/physiological issues is generally recognized, it should also be noted that, where appropriate, humans serve as subjects.

More About The Program

Research Training

Research participation is a major focus of the behavioral neuroscience program. Students are expected to be involved in scientific investigations throughout their graduate study; typically, the initial participation involves collaboration in a faculty research project. By the end of the first year students are expected to begin an M.A. thesis based on common interests with a faculty member/adviser. Students' developing research experiences, knowledge, and independence culminate in the dissertation, usually completed by the end of the fifth year.

All students are expected to enroll in "Brown Bag" seminars (research practica) and may participate in individual investigations with faculty members other than their major adviser. This aspect of the program is designed to give students experience with techniques and issues in several areas of behavioral neuroscience. A secondary benefit of the experience is to enhance research by encouraging cross-fertilization of techniques and ideas among laboratories with different research emphases.

Research Facilities

Much of the research in behavioral neuroscience at Kent State is conducted in the modern and extensive Kent Hall Animal Research Facility.  The animal facility has consistently received full accreditation from the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Lab Animal Care (AAALAC). Extensive experimental equipment and surgical/histological facilities are available there. Psychobiological research with human subjects is carried out in appropriate rooms in Kent Hall and other facilities on the university campus as well as regional hospitals.

Animal facilities are equipped for studying a very broad range of rat and mouse behavior including classical conditioning, avoidance learning, operant conditioning, cognitive tasks, and social behavior. These studies are supported by equipment including Med-State computer control systems, video monitoring and recording, traditional mazes, avoidance conditioning chambers, operant chambers of various designs, and touchscreen testing chambers for rodents.

The facilities include a new molecular biology wet lab space that is optimized for performing all varieties of mRNA, DNA, protein manipulation and analyses as well as microscopy, and contains all the necessary equipment and accessories required for cell culture, virus production (except ultracentrifuge) and stereotaxic rodent surgery.  In addition, there are three 70 square foot each, dedicated behavioral rooms that are separately optimized for different behavioral analysis of rodents, including fear conditioning, elevated-plus maze, open-field activity tests and social interaction tests, as well as optogenetic stimulation.  The laboratory also has sufficient refrigerator and freezer space.

Core Faculty

Dr. Kathleen Casto - Hormone, brain, behavior mechanisms underlying social competition and motivation with implications for mental health conditions associated with hormonal transitions (e.g., premenstrual dysphoria).

Dr. Doug Delahanty - Psychophysiological predictors and correlates of post-traumatic stress: secondary pharmacological interventions for trauma victims

Dr. Lee Gilman - Investigating how exposure to different diets and stressors influence hormones that interact with neurophysiological processes regulating emotions and behaviors.

Faculty With Related Interests

Dr. Stephen Fountain (Emeritus)  - Animal Cognition research dealing with animal models of complex learning and memory processes.  Neurobehavioral teratology research dealing with animal models of adult cognitive impairments caused by exposure to drugs such as nicotine during adolescence.  Behavioral neuroscience research dealing with brain correlates of complex cognition in animals, especially the role of cholinergic and glutamatergic neurotransmitter systems in cognition.  Cognitive science research dealing with computational modeling of complex cognitive behavior.

Dr. David Riccio (Emeritus) - Animal models to study amnesia with a focus on role retrieval cues in alleviating deficits.  Research also on loss of precision of memory for stimulus features over time.

Dr. F. Robert Treichler (Emeritus) studies animal models of learning and memory as instruments for assessing neurological function, with an emphasis on nonhuman primate tests of multiple problem integration.

Representative Behavioral Neuroscience Graduates and Current Positions

Vahram Haroutunian, Ph.D., Professor of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, Mt. Sinai Hospital, New York, NY

Rick Richardson, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

Charles Mactutus, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology and former Chair of the Department, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC

Stephen Ahlers, Ph.D., Director, Operational and Undersea Medicine Directorate at Naval Medical Research Center, Washington, DC

James D. Rowan III, Ph.D., 1993, Professor of Psychology & Director of the Neuroscience Program, Wesleyan College, Macon, GA

Robert Flint, Ph.D., 1997, Professor, St. Rose College, Albany, NY

Mitchell Metzger, Ph.D., 1997, Professor and Chair, Ashland University, Ashland, OH

Angela Burch-Vernon, Ph.D., 1998, Associate Professor, Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, IN

Steven Harrod, Ph.D., 1999, Associate Professor, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC

Douglas G. Wallace, Ph.D., 2000, Associate Professor of Psychology, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL
     - Winner of the 2003 APA Publication Award for the article resulting from his Master's Thesis at Kent State.

Gretchen Hanson Gotthard, Ph.D., 2002, Associate Professor, Muhlenberg College

Paula Millin, Ph.D., 2003, Associate Professor, Kenyon College, Gambier, OH

Matthew Anderson, Ph.D., 2004, Associate Professor, St. Josephs College, Philadelphia, PA

Elizabeth Caldwell, Ph.D., 2004, Assistant Professor, Ithaca College, Ithaca, NY

Eve Sledjeski, Ph.D., 2005, Instructor, Rowan University

Melissa D. Muller, Ph.D., 2006, Associate Professor of Psychology, University of Mount Union, Alliance, OH

James Briggs, Ph.D., 2006, Assistant Professor of Psychology, Susquehanna University, Selinsgrove, PA

Beth Fischer, Ph.D., 2007, Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

Nicole Nugent, Ph.D., 2007, Assistant Professor (Research), Alpert Brown Medical School

Jessica Boarts, Ph.D., 2008, Research Associate, Western Psychiatric Clinic Pittsburgh

Shannon M. A. Kundey, Ph.D., 2008, Assistant Professor of Psychology, Hood College, Frederick, MD

Sarah Ostrowski, Ph.D., 2008, Research Program Director, Akron Children's Hospital

Ihori Kobayashi, Ph.D., 2009, Postdoctoral Fellow, Howard University

Aaron Armelie, Ph.D., 2010, Private Practice, New Orleans

Amber Chenoweth, Ph.D., 2010, Assistant Professor of Psychology, Hiram College, Hiram, OH

Leah Irish, Ph.D., 2011, Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

Keri Pinna, Ph.D., 2011, Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Minnesota

Laura R. G. Pickens, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Psychology, Thiel College, Greenville, PA

Patrick Cullen, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow at U Wisconsin-Milwaukee (2012).

In addition, before beginning academic careers, earlier Ph.D. students have taken postdoctoral positions at institutions such as Princeton, Cornell, U of VT (UVM), Tufts, and Case-Western Reserve.