Dr. Amy Silvestri Hunter's research investigates the relationship between REM sleep and learning.
The primary goal of my research is to better understand the relationship between sleep and learning and memory processes. More specifically, I am attempting to determine how rapid eye movement (REM) sleep affects a phenomenon called extinction. This is the process by which an organism learns that two stimuli which were previously paired (e.g., a light and food pellet) are no longer related; that is, one no longer predicts the occurrence of the other. One reason that I find this line of research particularly interesting is because of its applications to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It has been suggested that PTSD is caused in part by a failure of extinction. Individuals with PTSD also have well-documented sleep disturbances. I believe that my work will help to shed light on the mechanisms of PTSD.
I have been at Seton Hall University since 2003. Courses that I frequently teach include Physiological Psychology, Motivation and Emotion, and Senior Seminar. Prior to my arrival, I spent three years as an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Indiana University - Purdue University Fort Wayne. From 1997-2000, I was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania, where I conducted research on the neural mechanisms of sleep and emotion.
- Ph.D., University of Vermont, 1997
- M.A., University of Vermont, 1994
- B.A., Salve Regina University, 1991
Grants and Awards
- Provost's Faculty Scholarship Award: Journal article publication (2008)
- Provost's Summer Research Fellowship, Summer 2005, Project title: REM Sleep Deprivation and Learning: Neurobiological Mechanisms
- Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship, Summer 2008, with Jessica Nicaretta (undergraduate student); Project title: Effects of REM Sleep Deprivation on Spatial Memory: Data Analysis