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
"The effects of social housing on extinction of fear conditioning in rapid eye movement sleep deprived rats." Experimental Brain Research, 232(5), 1459-67. doi: 10.1007/s00221-014-3828-x, May 2014.
- Effects of REM deprivation and an NMDA agonist on the extinction of conditioned fear." Physiology and Behavior, 93, 274- 281, August 2008.
"REM sleep deprivation affects extinction of cued but not contextual conditioning." Physiology and Behavior, 84(3), 343- 349, May 2005.
Grants and Awards
- Seton Hall Faculty Teacher of the Year, 2014
- Psychology Professor of the Year, awarded by the Seton Hall chapter of Psi Chi, 2012
- 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