Alexander Johnson vita

Associate Professor

PhD, Behavioral Neuroscience, Cardiff University, 2006

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.

Related Programs

Selected Publications

  • Johnson, A.W.
    Eating beyond metabolic need: how environmental cues influence feeding behaviors
    2013, Trends in Neurosciences, 36:101-109
  • Blouin, 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.
    Role of medial prefrontal cortex Narp in extinction of morphine conditioned place preference
    2013, Learning and Memory, 20:75-9
  • Johnson, A.W.
    Dietary manipulations influence sucrose acceptance in diet induced obese mice
    2012, Appetite, 58:215-221
  • Sherwood, A., Wosiski-Kuhn, M., Nguyen, T., Holland, P.C., Layake, B., Adamantidis, A., Johnson, A.W.
    The role of melanin concentrating hormone in conditioned reward learning
    2012, European Journal of Neuroscience, 36:3126-3133
  • Johnson, A.W., Crombag, H.S., Smith, D.R., & Ramanan, N
    Effects of serum response factor (SRF) deletion on conditioned reinforcement
    2012, Behavioural Brain Research, 220:312-318
  • Reti, I.M., Blouin, A.M., Worley, P.F., Holland, P.C., Johnson, A.W., & Baraban, J.M.
    Mediating the Effects of Drug Abuse: The Role of Narp in Synaptic Plasticity
    2011, Institute for Laboratory Animal Research, 52:251-272
  • Johnson, A.W., & Gallagher, M.
    Greater effort boosts the affective taste properties of food
    2011, Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 278:1450-1456
  • Crombag, H.S., Johnson, A.W., Zimmer, A., & Holland, P.C.
    Deficits in sensory-specific devaluation task performance following genetic deletions of cannabinoid (CB1) receptor
    2010, Learning and Memory, 17:807-11
  • Johnson, A.W., Sherwood, A., Smith, D.R., Wosiski-Kuhn, M., Gallagher, M., Holland, P.C.
    An analysis of licking microstructure in three strains of mice
    2010, Appetite, 54:320-30
  • Johnson, A.W., Han, S., Blouin, A.M., Saini, J., Worley, P.F., During, M.J., Holland, P.C., Baraban, J.M., & Reti, I.M.
    Localized disruption of Narp in medial prefrontal cortex blocks reinforcer devaluation performance
    2010, Learning and Memory, 17:620-626
  • Allman, M. J., DeLeon, I. G., Cataldo, M. F., Holland, P. C., & Johnson, A. W.
    Learning processes affecting human decision-making: An assessment of reinforcer-selective Pavlovian-to-Instrumental transfer following reinforcer devaluation
    2010, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes, 36:402-408
  • Crombag, H.S., Dickson, M., Dinenna, M., Johnson, A.W., Perin, M., Holland, P.C., Baraban, J.M., & Reti, I.M.
    Narp deletion blocks extinction of morphine place preference conditioning
    2009, Neuropsychopharmacology, 34:857-66
  • Johnson, A.W., Gallagher, M., & Holland, P.C.
    The basolateral amygdala is critical to the expression of Pavlovian and instrumental outcome-specific reinforcer devaluation effects
    2009, Journal of Neuroscience, 29:696-704
  • Johnson, A.W., Canter, R., Gallagher, M., & Holland, P.C.
    Assessing the role of the growth hormone secretagogue receptor in motivational learning and food intake
    2009, Behavioral Neuroscience, 123:1058-65
  • Smith, D.R., Burruss, D.R., & *Johnson, A.W.
    An assessment of odor novelty and detection in 3 strains of mice
    2009, Behavioural Brain Research, 201:22-8
  • Johnson, A.W., Chen, X., Crombag, H.S., Zhang, C., Smith, D.R., Shokat, K.M., Gallagher, M., Holland, P.C., & Ginty, D.D.
    The BDNF receptor Trk-B is critical to the acquisition but not expression of conditioned incentive value
    2008, European Journal of Neuroscience, 28:997-1002
  • Johnson, A.W., Bannerman, D., Rawlins, N., Sprengel, R., & Good, M.A.
    Targeted deletion of the GluR-1 AMPA receptor subunit dissociates general motivational and incentive properties of rewards on components of Pavlovian instrumental transfer and instrumental heterogeneous chain
    2007, Behavioral Neuroscience, 121:1192-202
  • Johnson, A.W., Crombag, H.S., Takamiya, K., Baraban, J.M., Holland, P.C., Huganir, R.L., & Reti, I.
    A selective role for neuronal activity regulated pentraxin in the processing of sensory-specific incentive value
    2007, Journal of Neuroscience, 27:13430-5
  • Johnson, A.W., Humeau, Y., Reisel, D., Borchartdt, T., Jensen, V., Gebhardt, C., Bosch, V., Gass, P., Bannerman, D, Good., M.A., Hvalby, O., Sprengel, R., & Luthi, A.
    A pathway-specific function for different AMPA receptor subunits in amygdala LTP and fear conditioning
    2007, Journal of Neuroscience, 27:10947-56
  • Johnson, A.W., Bannerman, D., Rawlins, N., Sprengel, R., & Good, M.A.
    Impaired outcome-specific devaluation of instrumental responding in mice with a targeted deletion of the AMPA receptor GluR-1 subunit
    2005, Journal of Neuroscience, 25:2359-65
  • more publications