Dr. Stephen D. Berry

Teaching Interests:

My teaching is primarily in behavioral neuroscience—the relationship between brain and behavior. I teach both the introductory and advanced biopsychology classes (PSY 251; 351), as well as an advanced course in the neurobiology of learning and memory (PSY 456/556). Specialized graduate seminars(PSY 620; 720) can be related to my research (below) or to more general current issues in neuroscience. In smaller advanced classes, emphasis is on new developments in the field, using critical analysis, writing and discussion (both online and in class). Neuroscience is changing rapidly, so a major goal is to prepare students with the intellectual and technological tools to evaluate unexpected or counterintuitive future developments. Independent study is also a major theme of my teaching, as students participate in discussions of new findings and hands-on research in my lab.

Research Interests:

Our lab investigates brain mechanisms of learning and memory. Teams of graduate and undergraduate students study classical conditioning of eyeblink and jaw movement in rabbits while recording electrophysiological patterns in critical structures. We have studied the effects of training paradigm, brain lesions, psychoactive drugs and aging on behavioral and neural measures. Recent studies have used a brain-computer interface to make training contingent upon certain naturally-occurring brain patterns in structures like the hippocampus and cerebellum. This technology can selectively accelerate or slow behavioral learning while we monitor or manipulate essential structures in the network that supports eyeblink conditioning. We have discovered that low frequency (3-7 Hz) oscillations may optimize the brain for this simple type of learning by coordinating the activity of widely-distributed neural systems.

Professional Recognition:

  • NIMH Postdoctoral Individual Research Fellowship, 1975-77
  • Elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Section J, 1986: “for important work on the hippocampal substrates of learning and memory.”
  • Elected a Fellow of the American Psychological Society (APS), 1989
  • Recognition by members of the class of 1991 as among “professors who contributed most significantly to their educational development.”  August, 1993
  • Nominated for “Distinguished Educator in the College of Arts and Science,” April 1998.
  • Associated Student Government “Honored Professor”, March 2003
  • 20+ years of external funding from the National Institutes  of Mental Health (NIMH), Aging (NIA), Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) and the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Representative Publications:

Berry, S. D., & Thompson, R. F.  (1978).  Prediction of learning rate from the hippocampal electroencephalogram. Science, 200, 1298-1300.

Berry, S. D., & Thompson, R. F.  (1979).  Medial septal lesions retard classical conditioning of the nictitating membrane response in rabbits.  Science, 205, 209-211.

Seager, M. A., Johnson, L. D., Chabot, E. S. Asaka, Y., and Berry, S. D.  (2002). Oscillatory brain states and learning:  Impact of hippocampal theta-contingent training.  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 99(3), 1616-1620.

Asaka, Y., Mauldin, K.N., Griffin, A.L., Seager, M.A., Shurrell, E. and Berry, S.D. (2005) Nonpharmacological amelioration of age-related learning deficits:  The impact of hippocampal theta-triggered training.  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 102(37), 13284-13288.

Hoffmann, L.C. and Berry, S.D. (2009) Cerebellar Theta Oscillations are Synchronized by Hippocampal Theta-Contingent Trace Conditioning. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA (106): 21371-21376.