Justin S. Rhodes

Section 1

Division: Behavioral Neuroscience

Associate Professor of Psychology

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Research Description

My laboratory is broadly interested in exploring how genes and environment affect voluntary behavior. My early work involved a selective breeding experiment in which mice were bred to display extremely high levels of voluntary physical exercise on running wheels. Results of pharmacological studies and brain imaging suggested that the neural basis of motivation for high running shared many features in common with that of motivation to self-administer drugs of abuse. One of the main focuses of my current research program is to study the extent to which the physiological bases of natural forms of motivation (such as motivation for food, sex or exercise) overlap with drug-induced motivation. Current projects include: 1) Using high-resolution brain imaging (immunohistochemical detection of c-Fos and Zif268) to identify brain regions that become activated when mice are placed into an environment where they had previously received a drug of abuse as compared to a natural reward, such as food or sex; 2) Studying the neural and genetic basis of excessive alcohol drinking in mouse models that are genetically predisposed to self administer intoxicating doses of ethanol; 3) Using selective breeding to develop lines of mice that display extremely high levels of physical activity in their home cages to study effects of genetic hyperactivity on learning and memory, aging, stress, responses to drugs of abuse and more generally to identify the genetic basis of hyperactivity and relationship to drug addiction; 4) Studying the effects of exercise on the morphology and physiology of the mouse brain to understand how exercise can improve learning and memory with an emphasis on relating the animal research to current human findings.


  • Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison



  • Advances in Psychobiology
  • Evolutionary Neuroscience
  • The Brain and the Mind

Recent Publications

Clark, P. J., Brezezinska, W. J., Puchalski, E. K., Krone, D. A., & Rhodes, J. S. (2009). Functional analysis of neurovascular adaptations to exercise in the dentate gyrus of young adult mice associated with cognitive gain. Hippocampus, In press.

Clark, P. J., Brzezinska, W. J., Thomas, M. W., Ryzhenko, N. A., Toshkov, S. A., & Rhodes, J. S. (2008). Intact neurogenesis is required for benefits of exercise on spatial memory but not motor performance or contextual fear conditioning in C57BL/6J mice. Neuroscience, 155(4), 1048-1058.

Gupta, T., Syed, Y. M., Revis, A. A., Miller, S. A., Martinez, M., Cohn, K. A., et al. (2008). Acute effects of acamprosate and MPEP on ethanol Drinking-in-the-Dark in male C57BL/6J mice. Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, 32(11), 1992-1998.

Zombeck, J. A., Chen, G. T., Johnson, Z. V., Rosenberg, D. M., Craig, A. B., & Rhodes, J. S. (2008). Neuroanatomical specificity of conditioned responses to cocaine versus food in mice. Physiology & Behavior, 93(3), 637-650.

Zombeck, J. A., Gupta, T., & Rhodes, J. S. (2009). Evaluation of a pharmacokinetic hypothesis for reduced locomotor stimulation from methamphetamine and cocaine in adolescent versus adult male C57BL/6J mice. Psychopharmacology, 201(4), 589-599.

Section 2


Facilities Information

Accessibility in the Psychology Bldg

The project in the west basement corridor is to upgrade the accessibility to Room 23 with powered doors to allow proper ADA access. The next goal is to upgrade the accessibility to the Atrium and Room 142!