Conditioning & Learning

Photograph of Adam Doughty, Ph.D.

Dr. Adam Doughty

My students and I conduct research in the experimental analysis of behavior. Our participants include both people and pigeons. Our most recent research has examined the variables that impact behavioral variability and derived stimulus relations. The unifying theme of this research is how best to refine behavioral approaches to novelty (i.e., how organisms respond in novel ways and react under novel circumstances). As such, the research bears on several theoretical and practical issues such as creative problem solving, the role of language in learning, and the problems displayed in some clinical populations (e.g., autism spectrum disorder).


Photograph of Chad Galuska, Ph.D.

Dr. Chad Galuska

I study basic processes of operant conditioning in a rat model. Rats lever press to earn food or liquid rewards. Using principles from behavioral economics, such as demand-curve analyses, I quantify how the essential value for a commodity changes either over time or as a function of the availability of alternative reinforcers. An ongoing line of research in my laboratory investigates how negative incentive shifts in reward context engender maladaptive or suboptimal patterns of behavior. These baselines are used in animal drug self-administration assays in collaborative research with other institutions and ultimately may shed light on the environmental determinants of drug use, abuse, and relapse. Students working in my laboratory will conduct daily experimental sessions with rat subjects, learn data management and data analytic skills, and disseminate their work at professional conferences.

Photograph of John J. Widholm, Ph.D.

Dr. John J. Widholm

My current research interest involves the examination of the factors that lead to behavioral renewal in rats.  Renewal refers to the tendency for a currently irrelevant behavior to be emitted based upon contextual cues and an understanding of this paradigm has relevance for a number of human behavioral tendencies, including drug addiction.

I am also interested in the application of animal models to understand the long term effects of developmental environmental contaminant exposure (such as ammonium perchlorate). 

Students that work in my lab are involved in most stages of the research process, including; experimental design, daily animal testing, data analysis, and publication / presentation of the research findings. 

Recent Publications:

Widholm, J.J., Gass, J.T., *Cleva, R.M., & Olive, M.F. (2011). The mGluR5 positive allosteric modulator CDPPB does not alter extinction or contextual reinstatement of methamphetamine-seeking behavior in rats. Journal of Addiction, Research & Therapy. S1, 004.

*Cleva, R.M., Hicks, M.P., Gass, J.T., Wischerath, K.C., *Plasters, E.T., Widholm, J.J., & Olive, M.F. (2011). mGluR5 positive allosteric modulation enhances extinction learning following cocaine self-administration. Behavioral Neuroscience, 125(1), 10-19.

Widholm, J.J. (2010). Extinction learning as a model of drug treatment and relapse: A behavioral overview. The Open Addiction Journal, 3: 57-62.

John Widholm Lab Photo 1