Erik GarciaErik Joseph Garcia

Advisor: Dr. Mary Cain

Description of Research

Interestingly, many people experiment with drugs, but only a fraction of users become compulsive drug takers. I am interested in understanding individual difference traits that contribute to compulsive drug taking. Novelty and sensation seeking are traits identified in both humans and rodents to contribute to self-administration and compulsive drug taking. Yet, it is unclear whether high novel seeking rodents are more or less sensitive to psychomotor stimulants. Wouldn’t it be great if the animals could tell us!?!

Ultrasonic vocalizations (USV) are a real-time measure of affective and motivational states in rodents, especially under the influence of psychomotor stimulants. Rats can be bred to be high and low USV callers, suggesting USV could reveal differences in sensitivity between high and low vocalizing animals. My current research focuses on determining the relationship between novelty and USV in an effort to predict amphetamine-induced drug response in rodents.


None yet!!

Representative Presentations

Garcia, E. J., McCowan, T. J., Johns, K. C., & Cain, M. E. (2014). Response to novel environment predicts amphetamine-induced 50 kHz ultrasonic vocalizations after withdrawal from a low and high dose of amphetamine. Poster presented to be presented at the 44th Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience. Washington, D.C. November, 2014

Dietz, Z., Johns, K., Garcia, E. & Cain, M. (2014). Understanding the Relationship of Different Novelty Assessments in Sprague Dawley Rats. Poster presented at the Annual Kansas State Research Forum. Manhattan, Kansas. March 2014.

Garcia, E. J., McCowan, T. J., & Cain, M. E. (2013). A moderator dose of amphetamine fails to evoke 50 kHz ultrasonic vocalization but induces psychomotor hyperactivity. Poster presented at the 43rd Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience. San Diego, CA. November 2013.

Garcia, E. J., McCowan, T. J., & Cain, M. E. (2013). The relationship between the response to novelty and 50 kHz ultrasonic vocalizations in response to amphetamine. Poster presented at the 61st annual Nebraska Symposium on Motivation. Lincoln, Nebraska. April 2013.

Garcia, E. J., Blaesing, S., & Palmatier, M. I. (2012). The effects of acute and chronic nicotine on locomotor activity and ultrasonic vocalizations. Poster presented at the 42nd Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience. New Orleans, LA.

Jones, S. A., Garcia, E. J., Jones, B. L., & Palmatier, M. I. Continuous intravenous caffeine infusions dose-dependently increased the motivation to obtain alcohol in rats. Poster presented at the 42nd Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience. New Orleans, LA.

Grants and Awards

Research Supplement to Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research Programs, National Institute of Health; National Institute on Drug Abuse, 3R15DA035435-01S1, Kansas State University, 2014-2016, Award $73k

Timothy R. Donaghue Graduate Scholarship, Kansas State University, 2011, 2012, & 2013

Vaughn Scholarship Undergraduate Scholarship, Nebraska Wesleyan University 2006, 2007 & 2010

Teaching Experiences (Primary Instructor)           

General Psychology Psych 110 - Spring 2014

Research Methods Lab Psych 350 - Spring 2014 & Fall 2013

Teaching Experiences (GTA)

     **Denotes graduate course**

**Research Design Psych 803 - Spring 2013**

**Quantitative Methods Psych 802 - Fall 2012**

Drugs and Behavior Psych 202 - Fall 2012 & 2011

Psychopharmacology Psych 570 – Spring 2012

General Psychology Psych 110 – Spring 2012

Social Psychology Psych 535 – Fall 2011

Guest Lecturer

Drugs and Behavior Psych 202 – Fall 2013

Pharmacology of medical marijuana


Kansas State University, M.S. – Fall 2014

       Experimental Psychology: Behavioral Neuroscience

Colorado State University B.S.- Fall 2010

Contact Information


Phone: 720-233-3099