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Ryan Parsons, Ph.D.

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (2008)
Associate Professor, Integrative Neuroscience
Dr. Ryan Parsons will be reviewing graduate student applications for the 2023-2024 academic year.


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: 

Cole, K.E., Lee, J., Davis, M., Parsons, R.G. (2019). Subthreshold fear conditioning produces a rapidly developing neural mechanism that primes subsequent learning. eNeuro, doi: 10.1523/ENEURO.0113-19.2019 

Voulo, M.E., and Parsons, R.G. (2019). Gonadal hormone fluctuations do not affect the expression or extinction of fear potentiated startle in female rats. Behavioral Neuroscience, doi:10.1037/bne0000324 

Russo, A. S., Lee, J., & Parsons, R.G. (2019). Individual variability in the recall of fear extinction is associated with phosphorylation of mitogen-activated protein kinase in the infralimbic cortex. Psychopharmacology (Berl), 236, 2039–2048

Lee, J., Russo, A.R., & Parsons, R.G. (2018). Facilitation of fear learning by prior and subsequent fear conditioning.  Behavioural Brain Research, 347, 61-68 

Parsons, R.G. (2018). Behavioral and neural mechanisms by which prior experience impacts subsequent learning. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, 154, 22-29

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

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