Mary C. Olmstead, PhD
Department of Psychology
Centre for Neuroscience Studies
Queen's University, Kingston, ON K7L 3N6
T: 613-533-6208 F: 613-533-2499
Welcome to the MotiCog Lab
Directed by Dr. Mary C. Olmstead, Professor
I completed an honours BSc at the University of Toronto majoring in Psychology and Music. My interest in motivation, and how it is controlled by the brain, began when I worked with Prof. John Yeomans in the Dept. of Psychology. I then completed my MSc and PhD at McGill University with Prof. Keith Franklin where I investigated neural systems of reward-related learning. During this time, I collaborated with Prof. Roy Wise in the Centre for Studies in Behavioral Neurobiology at Concordia University, extending my previous work on brainstem contributions to motivated behaviour. As a post-doctoral fellow, I worked with Prof. Trevor Robbins, Prof. Barry Everitt, and Prof. Tony Dickinson in the Dept. of Experimental Psychology at the University of Cambridge. This work examined how rewarding signals, generated in the forebrain, interact with brain regions mediating learning to produce motivated (i.e., goal directed) behaviour.
In 1998, I joined the Dept. of Psychology at Queen’s University where I have continued to investigate cognitive-motivational interactions -- or how rewarding stimuli influence learning. My working hypothesis is that goal-directed behaviours and cognitive process, as part of a dynamic interactive system, reciprocally modulate each other. To investigate these process, I have adopted two complementary approaches. The first is a theoretical overview of the interaction between motivation and cognition that examines how reward-related learning is manifested in behaviour. The second is an examination of specific neural systems which may mediate the cognitive-motivational interface. Much of the research in my lab focuses on drug addiction, as this disorder is characterized by a breakdown in the 'normal' balance between motivation and cognition. See more details of specific research projects here.
From 2006-2007, I was a visiting scientist at the Institut de Génétique et de Biologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire in Strasbourg France. Working in a research team headed by Prof. Brigitte Kieffer I investigated the role of opioid systems in impulsive behaviours that characterize drug addiction. I returned to France in 2011 to work in a team headed by Prof. Francesco Bonadonna at the Centre d’ecologie fonctionalle and evolutive, Université de Montpellier. This work allowed me to study cognition within a behavioural ecology framework, leading to the publication of a new book with my friend and colleague, Valerie Kuhlmeier, Comparative Cognition.
Influenced by Impulse in International Innovation (PDF, 182 KB)
- Canadian College of Neuropsychopharmacology (CCNP)
- Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)
- Canadian Society for Brain, Behaviour and Cognitive Science (CSBBCS)
- Canadian Society of Addiction Medicine (CSAM)
- College on Problems of Drug Dependence (CPDD)
- European Behavioural Pharmacology Society (EBPS)
- International Behavioral Neuroscience Society (IBNS)
- National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
- Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)
- Ontario Problem Gambling Research Centre (OPGRC)
- Society for Neuroscience (SFN)
- Canadian Association for Neuroscience
- International Narcotics Research Conference