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Queen's University

Richard Beninger

 Richard Beninger

Department of Psychology Head

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

T: 613.533.2486

409 Craine
Psychology Department
Queen's University
Kingston, ON K7L 3N6


» Website | » Lab Site

Research Interests

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.

Selected Publications

Click here for a full list of publications


Beuk J, Beninger RJ, Pare M (2014) Investigating a race model account of executive control in rats with the countermanding paradigm. Neuroscience 263: 96-110
Seeley C, Cashaback J, Smith C, Beninger RJ (2014) Altering the shape of punishment distributions affects decision-making in a modified Iowa gambling task. Journal of Behavioral Decision Making 27: 170-178

Hawken ER, Delva NJ, Beninger RJ (2013) Increased drinking following social isolation rearing: implications for polydipsia associated with schizophrenia. PLoS ONE 8(2): e56105

MacLeod RJ, Moores ME, Beninger RJ. (2012) Amphetamine stimulates Wnt3 increases in rat nucleus accumbens.  NeuroReport 23: 846-850

Simpson SM, Hickey AJ, Baker GB, Reynolds JN, Beninger RJ (2012) The antidepressant phenelzine enhances memory in the double Y-maze and increases GABA levels in the hippocampus and frontal cortex of rats. Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior 102: 109-117

Banasikowski TJ, Beninger RJ (2012) Reduced expression of haloperidol conditioned catalepsy in rats by the dopamine D3 receptor antagonists nafadotride and NGB 2904. European Neuropsychopharmacology 22: 761-768

Wasserman JI, Barry RJ, Bradford L, Delva NJ, Beninger RJ (2012) Probabilistic classification and gambling in patients with schizophrenia receiving medication: comparison of risperidone, olanzapine, clozapine and typical antipsychotics. Psychopharmacology 222: 173-183

Kingston, Ontario, Canada. K7L 3N6. 613.533.2000