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 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.

Selected Publications

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

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