Department of Psychology

Department of


Department of


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Richard Beninger

Photo of Richard Beninger

Professor Emeritus

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

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

Beninger RJ (2018) Life’s Rewards:  Linking Dopamine, Incentive Learning, Schizophrenia, and the Mind.  Oxford University Press: Oxford, in press

Wickens R, Quartarone SE, Beninger RJ (2017) Inhibition of GSK3 by SB 216763 affects acquisition at lower doses than expression of amphetamine-conditioned place preference in rats. Behavioural Pharmacology, 28: 262-271

Szechtman H, Ahmari SE, Beninger RJ, Eilam D, Harvey BH, Edemann-Callesen H, Winter C. (2017) Obsessive-compulsive disorder: insights from animal models. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 76: 254-279

Islam F, Xu K, Beninger RJ (2017) Inhibition of Wnt signalling dose-dependently impairs the acquisition and expression of amphetamine-induced conditioned place preference. Behavioural Brain Research 326: 217-225

Rocca JF, Lister JG, Beninger RJ (2017) Spiroperidol, but not eticlopride or aripiprazole, produces gradual increases in descent latencies in the bar test in rats. Behavioural Pharmacology 28 30-36

Beuk J, Beninger RJ, Mechefske E, Paré M (2016) Contextual response time adaptation in the countermanding performance or rats.  Neuroscience 337: 200-217

Beuk J, Beninger RJ, Paré M (2016) Lifespan changes in the countermanding performance of young and middle aged adult rats. Frontiers of Aging Neuroscience 8: 190

Seeley CJ, Smith CT, MacDonald K, Beninger RJ (2016) Ventromedial prefrontal theta activity during rapid eye movement sleep is associated with improved decision-making on the Iowa gambling task. Behavioral Neuroscience 130: 271-280

Schimmel LNP, Banasikowski TJ, Hawken ER, Dumont EC, Beninger RJ (2015) Brain regions associated with inverse incentive learning: c-Fos immunohistochemistry after haloperidol sensitization on the bar test in rats. Behavioural Brain Research 293: 81-88