Department of Psychology

Department of


Department of


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Mary Olmstead

Photo of Mary Olmstead


B.Sc., University of Toronto, 1989
M.Sc., McGill University, 1991
Ph.D., McGill University, 1995

T: 613-533-6208

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

Research Interests

My research is directed towards understanding the neural and psychological interface between motivation and cognition,- or how rewarding stimuli influence learning. My working hypothesis is that goal-directed behaviours and cognitive processes, as part of a dynamic interactive system, reciprocally modulate each other. In order to investigate these process, I have adopted two complementary approaches in my work. 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. The majority of my research focuses on animal models of drug addiction as this disorder is characterized by a breakdown in the 'normal' balance between motivation and cognition.

Selected Publications

Click here for a full list of publications

Cahill, C.M., Xue, L., Holdridge, S., Grenier, P., Magnussen, C., Metcalfe, S., LeCourse, S., & Olmstead, M.C. (2013). Changes in morphine reward in a model of neuropathic pain. Behavioural Pharmacology (Epub).

Mahoney, M.K., & Olmstead, M.C. (2013). Neurobiology of an endophenotype: Modelling the progression of alcohol addiction in rodents. Current Opinions in Neurobiology (Epub).

Magrys, S.A., Olmstead, M.C., Wynne-Edwards, K.E., & Balodis, I.S. (2013). Biochemical responses to alcohol intoxication in healthy males: relationship with impulsivity, drinking behaviour and subjective effects. Psychophysiology, 50, 204-209.

Shea, A.J, Hewitt, A.M., Olmstead, M.C., Brien, J.F., & Reynolds, J.M. (2012). Moderate ethanol consumption by the pregnant guinea pig produces neurobeahvioural deficits and increases ethanol preference in offspring. Behavioural Pharmacology, 23, 105-112.

Hayton, S.J., Maracle, A.C., & Olmstead, M.C. (2012). Opposite effects of amphetamine on impulsive action with fixed and variable delays to respond. Neuropsychopharmacology, 37, 651-659.

Hayton, S.J., Mahoney, M.K., Olmstead, M.C. (2012). Behavioral traits predicting alcohol drinking in outbred rats: An investigation of anxiety, novelty seeking, and cognitive flexibility. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 36, 594-603.

Hayton, S.J., Olmstead, M.C., & Dumont, E.C. (2011). Shift in the intrinsic excitability of medial prefrontal cortex neurons followingtraining in impulse control and cued responding tasks. Public Library of Science (PLoS) One, 6, e23885.

Tuerke, K.J., Paquette, J.J., Beninger, R.J. & Olmstead, M.C., (2011). Dissociable effects of ultra-low dose naltrexone on tolerance to the antinociceptive and cataleptic effects of morphine. Behavioural Pharmacology, 22, 558-563.

Balodis, I.S., Wynne-Edwards, K.E. & Olmstead, M.C. (2011). The stress-response-dampening effect of placebo. Hormones & Behavior, 59, 465-472.

Befort, K., Mahoney, M.K., Chow, C., Hayton, S.J., Kieffer, B.L. & Olmstead, M.C. (2011). Effects of delta opioid receptor activation on a response inhibition task in rats. Psychopharmacology, 214, 967-976.

Hayton, S.J., Lovett-Barron, M., Dumont, E.C. & Olmstead, M.C. (2010). Target-specific encoding of response inhibition: Increased contribution of AMPA to NMDA receptors at excitatory synapses in the prefrontal cortex. Journal of Neuroscience, 30, 11493-11500.

Balodis, I.M., Wynne-Edwards, K.E. & Olmstead, M.C. (2010). The other side of the curve: examining the relationship between pre-stressor physiological responses and stress reactivity. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 35, 1363-1373.