Nicola Grissom, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology

Nicola Grissom

Contact Info

ngrissom@umn.edu

Office Address:
N249 Elliott Hall

Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology

Graduate Program in Neuroscience


Ph.D.: Psychology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 2009

B.A.: Psychology, Reed College, Portland OR, 2003

Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Pennsylvania

Summary

I work in mouse models to uncover the molecular mechanisms in mesocorticolimbic regions that permit us to learn new goal-directed behaviors, maintain motivation, and exert control over impulsive and habitual actions.

Because these abilities are often altered in neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism and ADHD, understanding the molecular keys to these abilities may reveal what makes these brains unique and identify new therapeutic avenues. In addition, because neurodevelopmental disorders are far more common in boys than in girls, I am invested in understanding how sex differences impact the development of these cognitive abilities.

In the long term, I want to uncover how we use feedback to learn new behaviors, and what differentiates the times we are able to use feedback to make optimal choices from the times we ignore feedback and end up making habitual or impulsive choices.

Expertise

Learning and memory, neurobiology of motivated behavior, autism models, outcome prediction, motivation, goal-directed learning, sex differences

Research

Research Summary/Interests

Using touchscreen behavioral testing and a suite of molecular and genetic techniques in mouse models, we work to uncover the molecular mechanisms in mesocorticolimbic regions that permit mice, and us, to learn new goal-directed behaviors, make decisions and choices between options, maintain motivation, and exert control over impulsive and habitual actions. Because these abilities are often altered in neuropsychiatric diseases, such as in neurodevelopmental disorders including autism and ADHD, understanding the molecular regulators of neuronal ensembles mediating these abilities may reveal what makes these brains unique and identify new therapeutic avenues. Critically, because neurodevelopmental disorders are significantly more prevalent in males, we are working to uncover potential molecular and circuit mechanisms of male vulnerability and/or female resilience to genotypes associated with these disorders.