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Neurochemical Basis of Motivation and Learning Laboratory

Principle Investigator: Jon Horvitz, PhD

City College of New York

Department of Psychology, Program in Cognitive Neuroscience
City College of New York, City University of New York

We are interested in the role of brain dopamine in learning and motivation. Dopamine activity is implicated in the reinforcing effects of cocaine, amphetamine and natural rewards like food, water and sex. Our laboratory examines the neurochemical bases of learning and motivation, particularly with respect to dopamine activity within its major brain target sites. Over the course of learning, as goal-directed behaviors become automatized habits, the neurobiological underpinnings of the behavior undergo important changes. What types of neurobiological changes occur as a goal-directed behavior becomes a habit?  What are the neurochemical events that contribute to the acquisition of habits? Some of our recent work has shown that while dopamine activity within key motivational regions - such as the nucleus accumbens - is necessary for the performance of a goal-directed behavior, dopamine involvement decreases as the behavior becomes a well-acquired habit.

Professor Horvitz is a faculty member in the Department of Psychology at City College of New York.
His mailing is: Dr. Jon Horvitz; Dept of Psychology, CCNY; NAC 7120;  NY, NY 10031

Note to CCNY undergraduates
: Some of our work is experimental. This work is currently being done off campus.  Our current work at CCNY is mostly computational/theoretical, and so we're unable to take undergrad assistants at the moment.

Members of the Lab

Rosa I. Caamaño Tubío PhD
Research Associate
Veronica Dobrovitsky
Veronica Dobrovitsky

 Doctoral Student
Mercedes Vega VillarMercedes Vega Villar

 Doctoral Student
Jon Horvitz
Jon Horvitz, PhD

Courses offered by Jon Horvitz at CCNY

Brain, Mind, Experience PSY254
Introduction to Cognitive Neuroscience PSY371
Advanced Topics in the Neurochemistry of Learning 31114

Brain, Mind, and Other Things website