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Department of Psychological Sciences

Mary E. Cain, Ph. D.

cainContact Information

Office: BH 424

Phone: 532-6884

E-mail: mecain@ksu.edu

Center for Cognitive and Neurobiological Approaches to Plasticity (CNAP)

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, western blots 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.

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, western blots 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

Erik Garcia, M.S. KSU (2014), B.S. Colorado State University (2010). Dissertation title: Post-synaptic glutamate receptors and the incubation of drug craving

Thomas Wukitsch, B.S. Southern Illinois University-Carbondale (2012). Began in laboratory in June 2015. First year project title: Isolation rearing, ethanol preference, and glutamate 

Recent lab alumni

David Arndt, PhD 2016: Post-doctoral fellow at the Clinical Pharmacology and Pharmacogenomics Training Program at the University of Chicago.

Maggie Gill, PhD 2010: Assistant Professor at North Central College. Completed post-doctoral training at the Medical University of South Carolina.

Wade Gutierrez, BS 2016: MD/PhD student at the University of Iowa

Emily Jorgenson, BS 2016: graduate student at the University of Wyoming Department of Neuroscience

Lauren Komer, BS 2016: Post-baccalaureate program at the National Institute of Health

Representative Publications (*undergraduate and #graduate students supervised)

#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, 10(7): e0131709. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0131709.

#Arndt, D.L., *Johns, K.C., *Deitz, Z.K. & Cain, M.E. (2015). Environmental condition alters amphetamine self-administration: Role of the mGluR5 receptor and schedule of reinforcement. Psychopharmacology, 232, 3741-52. 

# Garcia, E.J. & Cain, M.E. (2016). Novelty response and 50 kHz ultrasonic vocalizations: Differential prediction of locomotor and affective response to amphetamine in Sprague-Dawley rats. Psychopharmacology, 33(4):625-37.