Headshot for Peter Balsam


On June 1, 2021, Peter Balsam, the Samuel R. Milbank Professor of Psychology at Barnard College, published new research in Behavioral Neuroscience alongside Columbia University doctoral student Kelly M. Martyniuk, Barnard graduate Michelle Dandeneau ’20, and Columbia professor Christoph Kellendonk, titled “Dopamine D2R upregulation in ventral striatopallidal neurons does not affect Pavlovian or go/no-go learning.” The study, which served as the basis for Dandeneau’s senior thesis at Barnard, investigates how the dopamine receptor D2 (also known as D2R) affects motivation and the role that upregulation of D2R plays in associative learning responses.

After injecting mice with artificial dopamine 2 receptors, the research team used a series of behavioral tests, completed by Martyniuk, to examine the mice’s Go/No-Go learning responses. Their findings showed that while these receptors play a role in managing motivation, they do not necessarily affect associative learning responses. Professor Balsam and his colleagues expect that this research could aid in the development of new treatments for motivational disorders, like depression, as well as substance abuse disorders