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Department of Psychological Sciences

Charles Pickens, Ph.D.

Charles Pickens, PhDContact Information

Office: BH 469
Phone: 532-0613
E-mail: pickens@ksu.edu

Research Interests

Dr. Pickens is interested in how alcohol exposure in adolescence or adulthood affects the brain systems involved in learning about rewards and fear-inducing stimuli. He is particularly interested in the brain systems involved in the ability to learn about rewards and flexibly adjust our actions when our goals, or the correct strategies to achieve our goals, change. The lab studies these brain systems with the devaluation and reversal learning tasks in rats. He is also interested in the brain systems involved in fear and anxiety, and how this fear and anxiety can increase over time after traumatic events. The lab studies this in rats with the fear incubation task that he developed for this purpose.

The lab uses brain lesions/temporary inactivations, functional neuroanatomy (measures of neuronal activity and retrograde tracing), and optogenetic, behavioral and pharmacological approaches to investigate these questions.

Dr. Pickens’s personal website for the lab:


Student Involvement

Dr. Pickens plans to involve undergraduate and graduate students in all areas of his research to the highest degree that they are capable, from animal handling, feeding, injections, stereotaxic procedures, and analysis of brains and behavioral data after the experiments. He is recruiting undergraduates for the 2013-2014 school year and also recruiting graduate students to start in the 2014-2015 academic year. He can be contacted by email at: pickens@ksu.edu

Representative Publications

  1. Pickens, C.L., Saddoris, M.P., Setlow, B., Gallagher, M., Holland, P.C., & Schoenbaum, G. (2003). Different roles for orbitofrontal cortex and basolateral amygdala in a reinforcer devaluation task. Journal of Neuroscience, 23, 11078-11084.
  2. Pickens, C.L., & Holland, P.C. (2004). Conditioning and cognition. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 28, 651-661.
  3. Pickens, C.L. (2008). A limited role for mediodorsal thalamus in devaluation tasks. Behavioral Neuroscience, 122, 659-676.
  4. Pickens, C.L., Golden, S.A., Adams-Deutsch, T., Nair, S.G., & Shaham, Y. (2009). Long-lasting incubation of conditioned fear in rats. Biological Psychiatry, 65, 881-886.
  5. Pickens, C.L., Adams-Deutsch, T., Nair, S.G., Navarre, B.M., Heilig, M., & Shaham, Y. (2009). Effect of pharmacological manipulations of neuropeptide Y and corticotropin-releasing factor neurotransmission on incubation of conditioned fear. Neuroscience, 164, 1398-1406.
  6. Pickens, C.L., Airavaara, M., Theberge, F., Fanous, S., Bruce T. Hope & Shaham, Y. (2011). Neurobiology of incubation of drug craving. Trends in Neurosciences, 34, 411-420.
  7. Pickens, C.L., Cifani, C, Navarre, B.M., Eichenbaum, H., Theberge, F.R., Baumann, M.H., Calu, D.J., & Shaham, Y. (2012). Effect of fenfluramine on yohimbine- and pellet-priming-induced reinstatement of food seeking in food-restricted female and male rats: implications for the predictive validity of the reinstatement procedure. Psychopharmacology. 221, 341-353.

To view Dr. Pickens' most recent CV, click here.