UMass Psychology

Heather Richardson

Umass Psychology People

Dr. Heather N. Richardson

Position(s): Assistant Professor
Division: Div 1 NSB
Secondary Division: Div 2 Dev
Building/Room: T 527
Extension: 545-0166
Email: hrichardson AT cns DOT umass DOT edu
Center for Research on Families
Neuroscience and Behavior Program
Neurobiology of Stress and Addiction Laboratory

The Neurobiology of Stress and Addiction Lab


Males and females show different vulnerability to stress-related disorders such as anxiety, depression, and addiction. This may be driven by sex differences in brain structure, chemistry, and circulating hormones in adulthood. Adolescence is a period of neural plasticity during which experiences or substances that modulate endocrine systems (e.g., stress, alcohol) could interfere with normal neural remodeling and alter sexually dichotomous behaviors.  Our research uses rodent models to understand the neural, hormonal, and behavioral (e.g., impulsivity, anxiety) determinants of addiction and how susceptibility to stress-related disorders may be shaped perinatally (around the time of birth) and during adolescent development.

*Application inquiries: Please email Lynn Bengston at lynnb@psych.umass.edu

                                                   

Selected Publications

Adolescent drinking targets corticotropin releasing factor (CRF) peptide labeled cells in the central amygdala of male and female rats.
Karanikas CA, Lu YL, Richardson HN.
Neuroscience. 2013

Vargas WM, Bengston, L, Gilpin NW, Whitcomb BW, Richardson HN (in press). Alcohol binge drinking during adolescence or dependence during adulthood reduces prefrontal myelin in male rats.  Journal of Neuroscience.

James MH, Erin J. Campbell, EJ, Walker FR, Smith DW, Richardson HN, Hodgson DM, Dayas CV (in press).  Wheel running prevents early life stress-induced deficits in orexin function in male but not female rats. Front Beh Neurosci.

Lu YL and Richardson HN (2014). Alcohol, stress hormones, and the prefrontal cortex: a proposed pathway to the dark side of addiction. Neuroscience, 277: 139-151.

Vanderlinden LA, Saba LM, Printz MP, Flodman P, Koob G, Richardson HN, Hoffman PL, Tabakoff B (2014) Is the Alcohol Deprivation Effect Genetically Mediated? Studies with HXB/BXH Recombinant Inbred Rat Strains. Alcohol Clin Exp Res 38: 2148-57.

McClure J, Podos J, and Richardson HN (2014).  Isolating the delay component of impulsive choice in adolescent rats. Front. Integr. Neurosci. 8:3. doi: 10.3389/fnint.2014.00003.

Karanikas CA, Lu YL, and Richardson HN (2013).  Adolescent drinking targets corticotropin releasing factor (CRF) peptide labeled cells in the central amygdala of male and female rats. Neuroscience, 249 (98-105) *Selected for cover*

Gilpin NW, Karanikas CA, Richardson HN (2012) Adolescent Binge Drinking Leads to Changes in Alcohol Drinking, Anxiety, and Amygdalar Corticotropin Releasing Factor Cells in Adulthood in Male Rats. PLoS ONE 7(2): e31466. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0031466 

Gilpin NW, Smith AD, Cole M, Weiss F, Koob GF, Richardson HN (2009). Operant Behavior and Alcohol Levels in Blood and Brain of Alcohol-Dependent Rats. Alcoholism:  Clinical and Experimental Research, 33:  2113-23.

Richardson HN*, Chan SH*, Crawford EF, Lee YK, Funk C, Koob GF, and Mandyam CD (2009).  Permanent impairment of birth and survival of cortical and hippocampal proliferating cells following excessive drinking during alcohol dependence. Neurobiology of Disease, 36: 1-10.   (*Authors contributed equally)

Witkiewitz K*, Holmes A*, Ray LA*, Murphy JG*, Richardson HN*, Chen YC, McDevitt-Murphy ME, Cruz MT, Roberto M (2009). Young Investigator Award symposium.  Alcohol, 43:  499-508. (*Authors contributed equally)

Mandyam CD, Crawford EF, Eisch AJ, Rivier CL, and Richardson HN (2008). Stress experienced in utero reduces sexual dichotomies in neurogenesis, microenvironment, and cell death in the adult rat hippocampus. Developmental Neurobiology 68: 575-589

Richardson HN, Lee SY, O’Dell LE, Koob GF, and Rivier CL (2008).  Alcohol self-administration acutely stimulates the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, but alcohol dependence leads to a dampened neuroendocrine state.  European Journal of Neuroscience, 28:  1641-53.

Richardson HN, Zhao Y, Fekete ÉM, Funk CK, Wirsching P, Janda K, Zorrilla EP, and Koob GF (2008).  MPZP: a novel small molecule corticotropin-releasing factor type 1 receptor (CRF1) antagonist.  Pharmacology, Biochemistry, and Behavior 88: 497-510.

Richardson HN, Zorrilla EP,  Mandyam CD, and Rivier CL (2006).  Exposure to repetitive versus varied stress during prenatal development generates two distinct anxiogenic and neuroendocrine profiles in adulthood. Endocrinology, 147: 2506-17.

Richardson HN, Nelson ALA, Ahmed EI, Parfitt DB, Romeo RD, and Sisk CL (2004).  Female pheromones stimulate release of luteinizing hormone and testosterone without altering GnRH mRNA in adult male Syrian hamsters (Mesocricetus auratus).  General and Comparative Endocrinology, 138: 211-217.

Richardson HN, Gore AC, Venier JE, Romeo RD, and Sisk CL (2004).  Increased expression of forebrain GnRH mRNA and changes in testosterone negative feedback following pubertal maturation.  Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology 214: 63-70.

      

Lab members     

  • Principal Investigator:  Heather N. Richardson, Ph.D.
  • Senior Research Technician:  Lynn Bengston, M.S.
  • Neuroscience and Behavior Program Graduate Students:  Yi-Ling Lu, Jesse McClure, Wanette Vargas, Guillaume Pagnier (Andrew Cohen's lab), Andrea Silva
  • Commonwealth College Honors Students:  Sara Woldemariam, Erin Caffrey
  • Independent Study and Research Assistants:  Callie Dacyczyn, Ryan Tressel, Dimitria Gomes, Sarah Brem, Jackson Mitchell, Rebecca Zamdborg, Yun-Hee Seol

Lab Alumni - Where are they now?

Divya Harpalani (2011-2014)  BS in Psych-Neuro Track;  Commonwealth Honors Project

Current position:  Medical student, University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine

Sean McDougall (2011-2014) BS in Biology, Minor in Chemistry; Commonwealth Honors Project - collaborative project with Li lab; Junior Fellow Award

Current position:  Medical student, New York Medical College

Becca Adams (2012-2014) BS in Psych-Neuro Track; Independent Study

Current position:  Science Teacher, UP Academy Boston

Jacqueline DiBella (2012-2014) BS in Psych-Neuro; Commonwealth Honors Project

Current position:  Graduate student, Boston University School of Public Health

Patrick Notini (2012-2013) BS in Psych-Neuro Track; Independent study

  Current position: Medical Student, University of North Carolina School of Medicine

Aditi Dave (2011-2014) BS in Psych-Neuro Track; Commonwealth Honors Project

  Current position: Pharmacy Assistant, CVS Pharmacy

Frank Jackson (2011-2013) BS in Psych-Neuro Track; Independent Study

  Current position: Research Database Manager, Boston Children's Hospital

Kerri Connolly (2011-2013) BS in Psych-Neuro Track; Commonwealth Honors Project

Marina Shirokova (2011-2013) BS in Psych-Neuro Track; Independent Study

Current position: EMT at Life Line Ambulance Service, Inc.

Kyle O'Donnell (2011-2013) BS in Psych-Neuro Track; Independent Study

Current position:  Research Assistant, Boston Children's Hospital

Vanessa Villamarin (2011-2013) BS in Psych-Neuro Track; Independent Study)

  Current position:  Clinical Research Assistant, National Children's Study, Pediatrics Dept, UMass Medical School

Maryam Semenov (2011-2013) BS in Psych-Neuro Track; Independent Study

  Current position:  Graduate student, University of Southern California Pharmacy School

Kylee Deiter (2011-2013) BS in Psych-Neuro Track; Independent Study

Pengse Po (2010-2013)  BS Biochemistry and Molecular Biology; Commonwealth Honors Project

Current position:  Research Specialist, University of Pennsylvania

Chrisanthi Karanikas (2010-2012) MS in Neuroscience and Behavior Program; Masters Thesis

Current position: Senior Associate, Scientific Communications, Eli Lilly and Company, Indianapolis

Danielle Rioux (2010-2012) BS in Biology; Commonwealth Honors Project

  Current position: Graduate student, Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences

Kyna Long (2010-2012) BS in Psych-Neuro Track; Independent Study

Current position:  Graduate student, Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine

Alexandra Cilano (2010-2012) BS in Psych-Neuro Track; Independent Study

Current position:  Clinical Technician, University of Rochester Medical Center

Shayla Russell (2010-2011) BS Psych-Neuro Track; Research Assistantship

Current position:  Research Associate, Ocular Gene Therapy, Genzyme Corporation

Mike Riad (2009-2011) BS in Psych-Neuro Track; Independent Study

Current position:  Research Assistant, Brain and Cognitive Sciences and McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Katherine Hemingway (2009-2011) BS in Biology and Minors in Psychology and Spanish; Commonwealth Honors Project

Current position: Medical student, Florida Atlantic University

Craig Mehrmann (2010-2011) BS in Philosophy, BS in Psych-Neuro Track; Commonwealth Honors Project, Awarded a Bay State Summer Scholarship

Current position:  Graduate student, Georgetown University, Complimentary and Alternative Medicine Program

Brianna Ciccone (2010-2011) BS in Psych-Neuro Track; Commonwealth Honors Project - collaborative project with Davidson lab.

Current position:  Graduate Student, Northeastern University

Nick Falbo (2009-2011) BS in Psych-Neuro Track; Independent Study - collaborative project with Davidson lab.

Current position: President and CEO, SouthPointe Consulting

Amar Sher (2009-2010) BS in Psych-Neuro Track; Commonwealth Honors Project - collaborative project with Davidson lab; Awarded a Bay State Summer Scholarship

Current position:  Medical Student, American University of Antigua College of Medicine

Troy Bringhurst (2009-2010)  BS Psych-Neuro Track, Independent Study

Kristie Fierro (2009-2010) BA in Psych; Commonwealth Honors Project; Awarded an Honors Research Grant

Current position:  Senior Activities Specialist, North Shore-LIJ Health System


Lab News

 

Fall 2014

 Guillaume Pagnier presents his masters thesis research at the NCRG Conference on Gambling and Addiciton in Las Vegas.  Great job Guillaume!

Summer 2014

Spring 2014

  • Dr. Richardson gives an invited lecture on her research at an international conference on alcohol and stress in Volterlar Spotlight: Meet Heather Richardson
  • Congratulations to Jesse McClure - winner of the NSB Vincent Dethier Award!  This prestigious award is given annually to a doctoral student who shows the highest academic and research achievement, and has signficantly contributed to the NSB program.

Fall 2013

  • NSB graduate student Yi-Ling Lu wins the best poster award at the Life Sciences Graduate Research Symposium!
  • Richardson lab study featured on the cover of Neuroscience.

Summer 2013

Spring 2013

  • Dissertation Research Grant was awarded to NSB graduate student Yi-Ling Lu.
  • Dr. Heather Richardson gives a talk on binge drinking and prefrontal myelin at for the Neuroscience Program in Department of Biology at Bay Path College, Longmeadow, MA

Fall  2012 

Summer 2012

Spring 2012

  • NSB grad student Jesse McClure gives an invited lecture titled "Neurobiology of Operant Learning" at the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, Warwick RI

Fall 2011

  • NSB graduate student Jesse McClure wins the best poster award at the Life Sciences Graduate Research Symposium!
Fall 2010

  • NSB graduate student Wanette Vargas was awarded a SACNAS Travel Scholarship to present her research at the national conference.

 

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