Department of Psychology

Department of


Department of


site header

Richard Beninger

Photo of Richard Beninger


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

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

Gregory JG, Hawken ER, Banasikowski TJ, Dumont EC, Beninger RJ (2015) A striatally mediated response strategy predicts acquisition of schedule-induced polydipsia in rats.  Progress in Neuropsychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry 61: 37-43

Baker TW, Florczynski MM, Beninger RJ (2015) Differential effects of clozapine, metoclopramide, haloperidol and risperidone on acquisition and expression of operant responding in rats. Psychopharmacology 232: 1534-1543

McLelland A, Martin-Iverson M, Beninger RJ (2014) The effect of quetiapine (Seroquel™) on conditioned place preference and elevated plus maze tests in rats when administered alone and in combination with (+)-amphetamine. Psychopharmacology 231: 4349-4359

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

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.