Richard J. Beninger

Queen's University, Canada

After completing his PhD in Psychol. with PM Milner at McGill Univ., Montreal in 1977, Rick was a postdoctoral fellow with AG Phillips in Dept. Psychol., Univ. British Columbia, Vancouver until 1980. There he began his psychopharmacological studies of neurotransmitters and behaviour, focusing on dopamine (DA) in reward-related learning and contributing to understanding the role of DA in incentive learning. Rick moved to Queen’s Univ., Kingston ON, Canada as Asst. Prof. Psychol. in 1980. He was cross-appointed, promoted, and then joint appointed to Dept. Psychiat. and continues to hold the position of Joint Prof. Psychol. Psychiat. His research has focused on the role of brain neurotransmitters in the control of behaviour. His DA-related studies in rats revealed the role of D1-like, D2 and D3 receptor subtypes and of a number of signaling molecules (e.g., PKA, PKC, ERK1/2, p38) in incentive learning and continue to uncover details of the interactive cellular mechanisms of incentive learning. Rick collaborated extensively with K Jhamnadas and RJ Boegman of Dept. Pharmacol. Toxicol., Queen's, focusing on the behavioural and neruochemical effects of endogenous neurotoxic and neuroprotective molecules, e.g., quinolinic, picolinic and kynurenic acid. He uses animal models of schizophrenia symptoms (e.g., subchronic NMDA receptor blockade, post-weaning social isolation) to evaluate changes in GABA function and possible therapeutics based on enhancing GABA function in these models. In human research he studies diseases related to abnormal function of the brain’s DA systems, evaluating learning and memory in Parkinson's and in schizophrenia patients treated with DA receptor-blocking antipsychotic drugs. He has shown that some of the memory deficits in schizophrenia are related to the type of antipsychotic medication used to treat the disorder. Results continue to provide new insights into the role of brain neurotransmitters in the control of behavior.

Biography Updated on 18 October 2011

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