Professor; Associate Director of the Undergraduate Neuroscience Program
Research and/or Creative Works
My research interests involve understanding the neurobiological mechanisms of stress, emotion and resilience. I use a variety of techniques to investigate these mechanisms, which include assessing conditioned and unconditioned fear and anxiety, pharmacological manipulations, neuroanatomical techniques, molecular, and intracellular electrophysiological techniques. I am particularly interested in the involvement of serotonin and stress-related neuropeptides in mediating the behavioral consequences of exposure to stressful stimuli, as well as the neurochemical changes mediating stress-resilience (for example, why does exercise reduce anxiety and make you more resilient in the face of stressors). Specific questions include:
- What is the role of the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST) in mediating fear/anxiety behaviors, and how does it accomplish this role?
- How do brain areas that mediate fear/anxiety behaviors (such as the BNST) respond to serotonin, and is the response to serotonin altered by inescapable stress, chronic stress, or exercise?
- What are the roles of pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide (PACAP) and corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) in mediating the behavioral and physiological consequences of stressor exposure?
- How does exercise alter brain circuits that mediate fear/anxiety behaviors?
- Miles, O.W., Thrailkill, E.A., Linden, A.K., May, V., Bouton, M.E., Hammack, S.E. (2017) Pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating peptide in the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis mediates stress-induced reinstatement of cocaine seeking in rats, Neuropsychopharmacology, in press. PMID: 28656976
- King, S. B., Toufexis, D.J., Hammack, S.E. (2017) Pituitary adenylate cyclase activating polypeptide (PACAP), stress and sex hormones, Stress, 20(5): 465-475. PMID: 28610473
- King, S.B., Lezak, K.R., O’Reilly, M., Toufexis, D.J., Falls, W.A., Braas, K.M., May, V., Hammack, S.E. (2017) The Effects of Prior Stress on Anxiety-like Responding to Intra-BNST Pituitary Adenylate Cyclase Activating Polypeptide (PACAP) in Male and Female Rats, Neuropsychopharmacology, 42(8): 1679-1687. PMID: 28106040
- Mazzone, C.M., Pati, D., Michaelides, M., DiBerto, J., Fox, J.H., Tipton, G., Anderson, C., Duffy, K., McKlveen, J.M., Hardaway, J.,A., Magness, S.T., Falls, W.A., Hammack, S.E., McElligott, Z.A., Hurd, Y.L., Kash, T.L. (2016) Acute engagement of Gq-mediated signaling in the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis induces anxiety-like behavior, Molecular Psychiatry, 23(1): 143-153. PMID: 27956747
- Missig, G., Mei, L., Vizzard, M.A., Braas, K.M., Waschek, J.A., Hammack, S.E., May, V. (2016) Parabrachial PACAP activation of amygdala endosomal ERK signaling regulates the emotional component of pain, Biological Psychiatry, 81(8): 671-682. PMID: 28057459
- Hammack, S.E., Todd, T.P., Kocho-Schellenberg, M., Bouton, M.E. (2015) Role of the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis in the acquisition of contextual fear at long or short context-shock intervals, Behavioral Neuroscience, 129(5): 673-8. PMID: 26348716.
- Hammack, S.E., May, V. (2015) Pituitary adenylate cyclase activating polypeptide in stress-related disorders: data convergence from animal and human studies, Biological Psychiatry, 78(3): 167-77. PMID: 25636177.
Awards and Recognition
Director, Undergraduate Neuroscience Program