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Ryan Parsons, Ph.D.

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (2008)
Assistant Professor, Integrative Neuroscience
Dr. Parsons plans to admit a new graduate student pending approval of funding.


Office: Psychology B-320

Phone: (631) 632-4797

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Research Interests:

Fear learning, memory consolidation, memory reconsolidation, fear extinction, anxiety, neural plasticity.

Current Research:

The primary focus of my research is to investigate the neurobiological mechanisms supporting learning and memory using Pavlovian fear conditioning in rats as a model system.  Not only does the study of fear conditioning lend itself well towards answering basic questions about how the brain supports learning and memory, but it has the potential to further the understanding of fear and anxiety based psychopathologies like posttraumatic stress disorder.  My research uses this form of learning to understand plasticity in the brain circuits underlying behavioral phenomena such as acquisition and consolidation of memory, the reconsolidation of memory after retrieval, extinction learning, and memory maintenance.  My lab defines the neurobiological basis of these complex behavioral phenomena using targeted pharmacological and chemogenetic manipulations, and molecular biology techniques such as immunohistochemistry and western blotting.

Representative Publications:  

Voulo, ME, & Parsons, RG (2017). Response-specific sex difference in the retention of fear extinction.  Learning and Memory, 24, 245 –251

Russo, AR, & Parsons, RG (2017).   Acoustic startle response in rats predicts inter-individual variation in fear extinction.  Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, 139, 157-164

Sharp WG, Allen AG, Stubbs KH, Criado KK, Sanders R, McCracken CE, Parsons RG, Scahill L, & Gourley SL. (2017). Successful pharmacotherapy for the treatment of severe feeding aversion with mechanistic insights from cross-species neuronal remodeling. Translational Psychiatry 7: e1157.

Parsons, RG, Walker, DL, & Davis, M (2016). Mechanisms underlying long-term fear memory formation from a metaplastic neuronal state. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, 136, 47-53

Shapiro LP, Parsons, RG, Koleske, AJ, & Gourley, SL (2016). Differential expression of cytoskeletal regulatory factors in the adolescent prefrontal cortex: Implications for cortical development. Journal of Neuroscience Research, 95, 1123-1143.

Parsons, RG, & Ressler, KJ (2013). Implications of memory modulation for post-traumatic stress and disorders of fear. Nature Neuroscience, 16, 146-153.

Parsons, RG, & Davis, M (2012). A metaplasticity-like mechanism supports the selection of fear memories: Role of Protein Kinase A in the amygdala. Journal of Neuroscience, 32, 7843-7851.

Parsons, RG, & Davis, M (2011).  Temporary disruption of fear potentiated startle following PKMz inhibition in the amygdala.  Nature Neuroscience, 14, 295-296.

Parsons, RG, Gafford, GM, & Helmstetter, FJ (2010).  Regulation of extinction-related plasticity by opioid receptors in the ventrolateral periaqueductal gray matter.  Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 4. doi:10.3389/fnbeh.2010.00044

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