Dr. Spencer's research is concerned with understanding the neurobiology of stress and circadian control of brain function. His laboratory is dedicated to determining the molecular, cellular and systems level response of the central nervous system to psychological stressors, and how that response may adapt as a result of prior stressor exposure. In addition, his laboratory studies the controlling mechanisms of a primary neuroendocrine stress response system, the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. A component of this research examines stress and circadian function interactions, especially in terms of their modulation of prefrontal cortex function. This basic research may have some relevance to understanding the underlying physiological changes that accompany clinical depression, PTSD and other biomedical disorders that are associated with neuroendocrine dysfunction.
neurobiology of stress, stress response adaptation, glucocorticoid negative feedback control of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, circadian control of brain function, clock gene regulation, activity dependent gene expression
NRSC 4011 - Senior Thesis
Fall 2018 / Spring 2019 / Spring 2020 / Fall 2020 / Spring 2021 / Spring 2022 / Spring 2023 / Fall 2023
Senior Thesis credits are available for students during the semester that they write and defend a departmental Honors Thesis. A neuroscience honors thesis must be based on an empirical research project that the student directs/participates in under guidance from a faculty member. Contact the neuroscience director for further information.
NRSC 4042 - Systems Neuroscience
Explores the neurophysiology, neuroanatomy and function of human sensory systems, motor systems, sensorimotor integration and higher level neurosystem function. Credit not granted for PSYC/NRSC 4052 and NRSC 4042.
NRSC 4092 - Behavioral Neuroendocrinology
Spring 2018 / Fall 2018 / Spring 2019 / Fall 2019 / Fall 2020 / Fall 2021 / Fall 2022 / Fall 2023
Provides an introduction to neuroendocrinology with a focus on the interaction between hormones and brain function. Same as NRSC 5092.
NRSC 5092 - Behavioral Neuroendocrinology
Spring 2018 / Fall 2018 / Fall 2019 / Fall 2020 / Fall 2021 / Fall 2022 / Fall 2023
Provides an introduction to neuroendocrinology with a focus on the interaction between hormones and brain function. In addition to attending and meeting all the requirements for the lecture portion of the course, graduate students meet for an additional hour each week to discuss in depth behavioral neuroendocrinology relevant research articles. Same as NRSC 4092.
NRSC 6100 - Advances in Neuroscience Seminar
Fall 2018 / Fall 2019 / Fall 2020 / Fall 2021
Designed for beginning graduate students interested in neuroscience. Students read, discuss, and evaluate the primary literature on a number of current topics in neuroscience as well as attend the seminar program in neuroscience. May be repeated up to 8 total credit hours.