Department of Psychology

Queen's University
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Department of

Psychology

Department of

Psychology

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Welcome to the Neurotransmitter and Behaviour Lab

Dr. Richard Beninger

B. A., University of Western Ontario (1973)
M.A., McGill University (1974)
Ph.D., McGill University (1977)

Research

In research with animals, my students and I use rats to study the role played by various neurotransmitters, especially dopamine, in reward-related incentive learning. Results suggest that dopamine alters the ability of environmental stimuli associated with reward to elicit approach and other responses in the future. The underlying mechanism involves D1-like receptors and a number of kinases and phosphatases possibly changing glutamate synaptic effectiveness in the striatum. Techniques include: behavioural tests of unconditioned and conditioned locomotor activity, place conditioning, lever press and maze learning and memory tasks; systemic or central injections of pharmacological compounds; and histology. In research with human participants diagnosed with Parkinson's disease or schizophrenia we study the role of dopamine and the effects of antipsychotic drugs on cognitive abilities including non-declarative memory. These studies with humans complement those with animals in revealing the role played by various neurotransmitters in the control of behaviour.

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