Behavioral Neuroscience

Section 1

Behavioral Neuroscience (Biological Division)

Program Description

The members of the Behavioral Neuroscience program area use neuroscience techniques mostly (but not exclusively) in animals to understand how the brain works to produce behavior. The program is strongly research oriented and each student works directly with a faculty mentor. Topics that individual researchers explore include neural plasticity, the cellular basis for learning and memory, hormonal effects on neural development, adolescence and aging, drugs of abuse and addiction, auditory encoding of speech, physiology of the visual system, and genetic influences on motivation. The faculty and students in Behavioral Neuroscience interact with other program areas in Psychology as well as the campus-wide Neuroscience Program.


The curriculum is tailored to the individual student's interests and goals. The only course requirements are those set by the department and the weekly Proseminar in Psychology for Behavioral Neuroscience. Most students take courses in the various biology departments outside of Psychology as part of the department's minor requirement. Participation in research is emphasized and each student presents a first year project by the end of their third semester in graduate school.

Facilities and Resources

Faculty laboratories are either in the Psychology Building or in the interdisciplinary Beckman Institute. There are animal housing facilities in both buildings. In addition, all faculty and students have access to group facilities for such techniques as electron microscopy, confocal microscopy and functional magnetic resonance imaging.

Affiliated Departments, Programs and Institutes

All of the faculty in Behavioral Neuroscience are also members of the campus-wide Neuroscience Program. There are also close ties to the interdisciplinary Beckman Institute and to several departments within the Schools of Molecular and Cellular Biology and of Integrative Biology. Some graduate students within Behavioral Neuroscience have also been members of the campus MD/PhD (Medical Scholars) Program. Admission to both the Medical Scholars Program and the Psychology Department doctoral program is required. Faculty and students in Behavioral Neuroscience also interact with the Institute for Genomic Biology.

Behavioral Neuroscience Faculty

Roberto Galvez, Assistant Professor

Photo of Assistant Professor Roberto Galvez

Analysis of learning induced neocortical plasticity and the underlying mechanism(s) throughout development and in neurological disorders.

Office: Room 2351 Beckman Institute | (217) 244-0391 |

Joshua Gulley, Associate Professor

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Neurobiology of drug and alcohol addiction, with an emphasis on behavioral and physiological analyses of brain reward pathways in animal models of drug taking and repeated drug exposure.

Office: Room 731 | (217) 265-6413 |

Janice M. Juraska, Professor


The effects of sex, hormones (especially gonadal) and the environment on brain structure and of behavioral abilities in rats across during development, adolescence and aging.

Office: Room 735 | (217) 333-8546 |

Nu-Chu Liang, Assistant Professor

Photo of Assistant Professor Nu-Chu Liang

Mechanisms of aberrant eating behaviors, reward and motivation, orosensory reward processing, stress effects on feeding and diet preference/choice.

Office: Room 725 |

Justin S. Rhodes, Associate Professor

Photo of Associate Professor Justin Rhodes

Physiological, cellular and molecular mechanisms of motivation for natural and drug rewards using mice as a model organism; behavior genetics of exercise and effects of exercise on cognition and brain function.

Office: Room 3315 Beckman Institute | (217) 265-0021 |

Monica Uddin, Associate Professor

Monica Uddin

Genetic and genomic basis of stress-relevant mental disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.

Office: Room 631 |

Robert Wickesberg, Associate Professor


To discover the cues that are used to recognize speech, we examine how speech is encoded in the peripheral auditory system.

Office: Room 733 | (217) 333-1147 |


Associated Faculty

Michael Coles, Professor Emeritus

Michael Coles

The utility of measures of brain activity, derived using non-invasive procedures, in understanding human cognitive function.

Office: Room 509 | (217) 333-2122 |

Emanuel Donchin, Professor Emeritus

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Electrocortical measures and cognitive activities. Current research is concerned with the interpretation of components of the event related brain potential (ERP) as manifestations of cognitive activity.

Prof. Donchin is currently at the University of South Florida| (813) 974-0466 |

Joseph G. Malpeli, Professor Emeritus


Neurophysiology of the mammalian visual system.

Office: Room 530 | (217) 265-6207 |


Facilities Information

All-Gender ADA Accessible Restroom

The Psychology Department is very pleased to announce that an all-gender, ADA accessible, family-friendly restroom has been built on the first floor next to the elevators. The department partnered with F&S to construct this new restroom, which is now available to use. Please note that there is an indicator on the door showing whether the restroom is available or in use. Be sure to lock the door while using the restroom, and unlock the door before leaving.