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Johnson Alexander Johnson
Assistant Professor
Primary Program: Behavioral Neuroscience
205 Giltner
(517) 432-8446

Research Statement

My research interests are in uncovering the neuronal mechanisms of learning and motivation. Current projects include the modulation of food intake and procurement via learning, the transition to habitual behavior that follows addiction, and elucidating endophenotypes of mental illness in animal models. To this end, I use complex appetitive behavioral procedures based on contemporary learning theory, together with sophisticated neuroscience techniques, which include optogenetics, pharmacological inactivation procedures, functional anatomical techniques and the use of immediate early gene markers, for behavioral circuit analyses. In a continuation of my translational research interests, I am also interested in mechanisms of learning and decision-making in humans.

Research Publications    
2013Johnson, A.W. (2013). Eating beyond metabolic need: how environmental cues influence feeding behaviors. Trends in Neurosciences, 36(2), 101-109.
2013Blouin, A.M., Han, S., Pearce, A.M., Cheng, K., Johnson, A.W., Wang, C., During, M.J., Holland, P.C., Shaham, Y., Baraban, J.M., Reti, I.M. (2012) Role of medial prefrontal cortex Narp in extinction of morphine conditioned place preference. Learning and Memory, 20(2):75-9.
2012Johnson, A.W. (2012). Dietary manipulations influence sucrose acceptance in diet induced obese mice. Appetite, 58: 215-221.
2012Sherwood, A., Wosiski-Kuhn, M., Nguyen, T., Holland, P.C., Layake, B., Adamantidis, A., Johnson, A.W. (2012). The role of melanin concentrating hormone in conditioned reward learning. European Journal of Neuroscience, 36(8): 3126-3133.
2012Johnson, A.W., Crombag, H.S., Smith, D.R., & Ramanan, N. (2011). Effects of serum response factor (SRF) deletion on conditioned reinforcement. Behavioural Brain Research, 220: 312-318.
2011Reti, I.M., Blouin, A.M., Worley, P.F., Holland, P.C., Johnson, A.W., & Baraban, J.M. (2011). Mediating the Effects of Drug Abuse: The Role of Narp in Synaptic Plasticity. Institute for Laboratory Animal Research, 52(3): 251-272.
2011Johnson, A.W., & Gallagher, M. (2011). Greater effort boosts the affective taste properties of food. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 278(1711): 1450-1456.
2010Crombag, H.S., Johnson, A.W., Zimmer, A., & Holland, P.C. (2010). Deficits in sensory-specific devaluation task performance following genetic deletions of cannabinoid (CB1) receptor. Learning and Memory, 17: 807-11.
2010Johnson, A.W., Sherwood, A., Smith, D.R., Wosiski-Kuhn, M., Gallagher, M., Holland, P.C. (2010). An analysis of licking microstructure in three strains of mice. Appetite, 54: 320-30.
2010Johnson, A.W., Han, S., Blouin, A.M., Saini, J., Worley, P.F., During, M.J., Holland, P.C., Baraban, J.M., & Reti, I.M. (2010). Localized disruption of Narp in medial prefrontal cortex blocks reinforcer devaluation performance. Learning and Memory, 17: 620-626.