Teaching and research in biobehavioral psychology at UVM focuses on examining the behavioral and neurobiological components of learning and memory, and how these are modulated by emotion and stress.
The shared focus among biobehavioral faculty, as well as the close proximity of our labs, provides a unique environment and learning experience for students interested in this discipline.

Graduate students that focus on biobehavioral psychology can gain experience in a variety of behavioral and neuroscience techniques, including a number of different behavioral methods combined with genetic, lesion, pharmacological, neuronal recording and anatomical techniques. Graduate courses include seminars in advanced learning theory, neuropsychopharmacology, learning and memory systems, and the neurobiology of the stress response.

Individual Mentorship and a Diverse Curriculum

Operant boxes used to examine habit formation in rats

Students in the general/experimental program are admitted to work with specific faculty mentors in which interaction between student and mentor is of prime importance.  Given the complementary foci across biobehavioral laboratories, there are many opportunities for joint projects. In addition, several biobehavioral faculty have collaborative projects with researchers in the medical school. As well as undertaking supervised research, students that focus on biobehavioral psychology  must meet  course requirements as listed  at: https://www.uvm.edu/cas/psychology/course-requirements

Join an Active Research Community

Grad Student working on electrophysiology in the Hammack lab.

There are currently four biobehavioral faculty actively pursuing research;

Mark Bouton’s lab generally studies the behavioral processes that underlie behavior change. Recently, the Bouton lab is investigating the role of context in behavioral inhibition and how habits develop and can be returned to the status of goal-directed action. For more info see: (https://www.uvm.edu/cas/psychology/profiles/mark-bouton-biobehavioral)

John Green’s lab is currently studying the neural substrates supporting the effects of contexts and goals on instrumental behavior. This work is in collaboration with the Bouton lab. We have shown that the prelimbic cortex is a key brain area involved in these effects. For more info see: (https://www.uvm.edu/cas/psychology/profiles/john-green-biobehavioral)

Jom Hammack’s lab uses multiple techniques to examine the neural mechanisms underlying emotional behavior at multiple levels, from cells to circuits to behaviors. Current studies investigate the role of the peptide PACAP in regulating several brain regions critical for behavioral processes related to anxiety and addiction. For more info see: (https://www.uvm.edu/cas/psychology/profiles/sayamwong-jom-hammack-biobehavioral)

Donna Toufexis’s lab examines sex differences in learning, memory, and emotion. She is currently studying the mechanisms that underly the rapid formation of habitual behavior observed in female compared to male rats. For more info see: (https://www.uvm.edu/cas/psychology/profiles/donna-toufexis-biobehavioral)

A fifth member of our group, Bill Falls, is currently serving as the Dean for The College of Arts and Sciences.

All of the research underway in the biobehavioral psychology is vital for understanding how learning, memory and emotion processes are involved in addiction, fear and anxiety, and several other human psychopathologies.

In addition to taking courses, biobehavioral students participate in weekly lab meetings in which they discuss the research literature pertinent to their laboratory's interests. Different laboratories often get together for these lab meetings. There is also a bi-weekly meeting (the "biobehavioral cluster seminar") in which all biobehavioral students and faculty assemble to present their research and discuss topics of mutual interest. Researchers from other departments and other universities also often give presentations at the cluster seminar

The Neuroscience Alternative

Faculty in the biobehavioral cluster are also members of the University's Neuroscience Graduate Program, and can accept students through that program. If you are wondering whether the psychology program or the neuroscience program is a better fit for your interests and needs, please contact a biobehavioral professor with whom you might be interested in working before you apply to either program.

Facilities

The biobehavioral laboratories occupy approximately 4500 square feet of space on one floor of Dewey Hall. State of the art facilities include wet lab space for conducting histological and molecular biological experiments.

Falls Lab psychological science UVM

Solution preparation in the Falls Laboratory