Alisa Pajser


Vitae (pdf)

Advisor: Dr. Charles L. Pickens

Contact Information

Office: BH 548


Description of Research

Broadly speaking, I am interested in the neurobiology of learning and memory. Fear conditioning is an extremely well-established technique for studying just that. I use a procedure that, unlike most forms of fear conditioning, causes low fear-related behaviors initially that grow over time, a phenomenon termed ‘fear incubation.’ The pattern of behavior induced by fear incubation parallels that which is seen in cases of delayed-onset PTSD. Using this procedure, we are able to investigate what makes delayed-onset PTSD different from other anxiety disorders, as well as more general principles of learning and memory.

Currently, there is a c-Fos immunohistochemistry project comparing neuronal activation between traditional fear conditioning procedures (limited conditioned fear training) to fear incubation (extended conditioned fear training). We are specifically targeting the mPFC, BLA, and CeA. This project is the basis of my Master’s proposal. Another project is investigating the mechanism that underlies the fear incubation phenomenon. We are exploring whether fear might be increasing due to generalization or spontaneous recovery.

Recent Publications

*denotes undergraduate researcher

Pajser et al., 2018, in preparation.

Fisher, H., Bright, N.*, Gallo, M.*, Pajser, A., & Pickens, C. L. (2017). Relationship of low doses of alcohol voluntarily consumed during adolescence and early adulthood with subsequent behavioral flexibility. Behavioural Pharmacology, 28(7), 531-544. doi: 10.1097/FBP.0000000000000331.

Conference Presentations

*denotes undergraduate researcher

Pajser, A. Gaeddert, B.*, Fisher, H., Long, C.*, Kallenberger, P.*, Limoges, A.*, & Pickens C. Infralimbic cortex is involved in encoding operant overtraining in the fear incubation task. Presented at Society for Neuroscience Meeting 2017 (SFN), Washington, DC.

Pajser, A., Gaeddert, B.*, Fisher, H., Long, C.*, Kallenberger, P.*, Limoges, A.*, & Pickens, C. Operant overtraining increases infralimbic activity in the fear incubation task. Presented at Pavlovian Society meeting 2017, Philadelphia, PA.

Gaeddert, B.*, Pajser, A., Fisher, H., Kallenberger, P.*, Limoges, A.*, Long, C.*, & Pickens, C. Infralimbic cortex encodes operant overtraining, but not fear levels, in the fear incubation model. Poster presentation at Great Plains Students’ Psychology Convention 2017, Hays, KS.

Pajser, A., Crabtree, M.*, & Pickens, C. L. (2015, October). Anesthetic doses of ketamine improve reversal learning in a go/no-go task in rats. Poster presentation at Society for Neuroscience Meeting 2016 (SFN), San Diego, CA.