Dr. Barbara Oswald

Teaching Interests:

I regularly offer courses in Introductory Psychology, Research Methods, Consciousness, Physiological Psychology, and Learning and Memory.  My teaching interests are focused on helping students to understand difficult material, and to apply concepts in ways that are clinically relevant and personally useful.  My smaller classes and upper-level seminars strive to build learning communities, where students teach and learn from each other.  I believe learning is only complete when students are offered ‘hands-on’ experience, so I am committed to training undergraduate students to conduct independent research.  I also have a strong interest in online learning and using technology—wisely—to facilitate learning.

Research Interests:

My research interests focus on understanding the neurobiology of learning and memory:  brain structures and neurotransmitters that regulate encoding, storage, and retrieval of memories.  Much of my early research focused on determining the effects of stimulant drugs on attention, a necessary component for learning.  Later research evaluated the neurochemistry of the subjective (‘learned?’) effects of drugs by determining specific receptor subtypes mediating the stimulus effects of abused drugs including cocaine, LSD, and MDMA.  Most recently, my research has focused on evaluating the role of the prefrontal cortex on learning and memory.  I use a model of rabbit eyeblink conditioning to determine the effects of permanent and ‘temporary’ brain damage on acquisition and retention of a learned response.  Our research has shown that select regions of the prefrontal cortex may differentially regulate initial learning and later retrieval.  This research has important implications for victims of brain damage affecting the prefrontal cortex and associated structures.

Professional Recognition:

  • NIEHS Post-Doctoral Training Fellowship, Duke University, 1997-1998
  • VISN 7 Career Development Award, Department of Veteran’s Affairs, 2004-2006, “Test of an Animal Model of Associative Learning to Assess Pharmacological Treatments”. Role:  PI (with Mentor D.A. Powell); $75,000.
  • NISOD Faculty Excellence Award, 2005
  • Merit Review Award, Department of Veteran’s Affairs, 2006-2009, “Role of Prefrontal Cortex on Retrieval of Learned Somatomotor Memories”  Role:  PI (with co-PI  D.A. Powell); $450,000
  • Distinguished Undergraduate Research Mentor Award Nominee, University of South Carolina, 2007
  • Merit Review Award, Department of Veteran’s Affairs, December, 2009-October, 2010, “Prefrontal Control of Associative Learning” Role:  PI; $150,000. 

Representative Publications:

Oswald, B. B., Maddox, S. A., Tisdale, N., & Powell, D. A. (2010).  Encoding and retrieval are differentially processed by the anterior cingulate and prelimbic cortices: a study based on trace eyeblink conditioning in the rabbit.  Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, 93, 374-45.

Oswald, B. B.  (2009).  Pharmacology of conditioned bradycardia in animals.  In Central Nervous System Control of Learned and Unlearned Autonomic Adjustments.  Powell, D.A. (Ed.).  Old City Publishing, Philadelphia.

Oswald, B. B., Maddox, S. A., & Powell, D. A. (2007).  Detrimental effects of knife-cut lesions to the fornix on trace eyeblink conditioning:  reversal by galantamine.  Neurobiology of Learning & Memory, 88(3), 369-380.

Oswald, B. B., Knuckley, B., Mahan, K., Saunders, C. E., & Powell, D. A. (2006).  Prefrontal control of trace versus delay eyeblink conditioning in rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus):  role of the unconditioned stimulus.  Behavioral Neuroscience, 120(5), 1033-1042.

Simon (Oswald), B.B, Knuckley, B., Churchwell, J. & Powell, D. A. (2005).  Post-training lesions of the medial prefrontal cortex interfere with subsequent performance of trace eyeblink conditioning.  Journal of Neuroscience, 25(46), 10740-10746.