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Department of Psychological Sciences

Mary E. Cain, Ph. D.

cainContact Information

Office: BH 418

Phone: 532-6884

E-mail: mecain@ksu.edu

Research Interests

My research examines the neurobiological basis of drug use using a rodent model. I examine the neural structures that contribute to reward sensitivity in rats. Rats who are more responsive to novel stimuli or who are raised in an isolated environment are more sensitive to drug and non-drug rewards. Conversely, rats who are less responsive to novel stimuli or who are raised in an enriched environment are less sensitive to drug and non-drug rewards.  I use locomotor activity, self-administration, brain microinfusions, and a variety of behavioral measures to determine the brain areas that may contribute to the differential response to rewards. My research is attempting to determine the neuronal mechanisms that contribute to drug taking behavior in order to develop methods to decrease drug use using both behavioral and neurobiological techniques.

I received my Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology from the University of Vermont in 2002 under the supervision of Dr. Bruce Kapp. My dissertation examined how Pavlovian conditioned stimuli affect the processing of sensory information. From 2002 to 2004, I was a postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Psychology at the University of Kentucky under the supervision of Dr. Michael Bardo. My postdoctoral research examined individual differences in amphetamine self-administration in the rat.

Student Involvement

Undergraduate and graduate students working in my laboratory are involved in all aspects of the research process. Depending upon the students' interest, they can learn small animal stereotaxic surgery, Pavlovian and operant conditioning models, intravenous self-administration, brain microinfusions, and histology. Students will learn how to design projects, write grants to fund the projects, analyze the data, and will be given the opportunity to contribute to the publication of the results. Undergraduate student authors are indicated with a number sign (#) in the publications listed on this page. In addition to publications, students are encouraged to attend scientific meetings (e.g. The Society for Neuroscience) to present their research. In general, graduate students are funded with federal grants when money is available or through departmental graduate teaching assistantships. Dr. Cain can be contacted by email (mecain@ksu.edu) or phone (785-532-6884) by students interested in more information about opportunities in her lab.

Current Graduate Students

David Arndt, M.S. KSU (2014), B.S. University of Kentucky (2010). Thesis title: Environmental enrichment and serotonergic alterations on depressive-like states in rats.

Erik Garcia, M.S. KSU (2014), B.S. Colorado State University (2010). Thesis title: Assessing individual differences: Using novelty and ultrasonic vocalizations to predict acute and chronic d-amphetamine response

Michele Ulmer, B.S. Kansas State University (2015). Began in laboratory in June 2015 and is currently working on her first year project.

Thomas Wukitsch, B.S. Southern Illinois University-Carbondale (2012). Began in laboratory in June 2015 and is currently working on his first year project. 

Representative Publications (*undergraduate and #graduate students supervised)

#Arndt, D.L., *Arnold, J.A. & Cain, M.E. (2014). The effects of mGluR2/3 activation on acute and repeated amphetamine-induced hyperactivity in differentially reared rats. Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology, 22(3), 257-65.

#Gill, M.J., Weiss, M.L. & Cain, M.E. (2014). Effects of differential rearing on amphetamine induced c-fos in rats. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 145, 231-234.

#Garcia, E.J., * McCowan, T.J., & Cain, M.E. (2015). Harmonic and frequency modulated ultrasonic vocalizations reveal differences in conditioned and unconditioned reward processing. Behavioural Brain Research, 287, 207-214.

#Arndt, D.L., *Peterson, C.J., & Cain, M.E. (2015). Differential rearing alters forced swim test behavior, fluoxetine efficacy, and moderates post-stressor well-being. PLOS ONE, July 8, 2015.

#Arndt, D.L., *Johns, K.C., *Deitz, Z. & Cain, M.E. (in press). Environmental Condition Alters Amphetamine Self-Administration: Role of the MGluR5 Receptor and Schedule of Reinforcement. Psychopharmacology