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Seton Hall University

Amy Silvestri Hunter, Ph.D.

Department of Psychology

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 Biological Psychology (and lab), Research Methods, and Psychopharmacology (graduate). 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.