Department of Psychology

Department of

Psychology

Department of

Psychology

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The Neurotransmitters and Behaviour Lab is now closed

Dr. Richard Beninger

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

Research

In research with animals, my students and I used rats to study the role played by various neurotransmitters, especially dopamine, in reward-related incentive learning.  Results show that dopamine alters the ability of environmental stimuli to control behaviour:  increases in dopaminergic neurotransmission lead to incentive learning, the acquisition by neutral stimuli of the ability to elicit approach and other responses, and decreases lead to inverse incentive learning, the loss by neutral stimuli of the ability to elicit approach and other responses.  The underlying mechanisms include dopamine D1-like and D2 receptors and adenosine receptors that affect a number of kinases and phosphatases, changing glutamate synaptic effectiveness in the striatum.  In research with human participants diagnosed with Parkinson's disease or schizophrenia, we studied the role of dopamine and the effects of antipsychotic drugs on cognitive abilities including declarative and non-declarative memory.  These studies with humans complement those with animals in revealing the role played by various neurotransmitters in the control of behaviour.

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