My research program investigates the neuroscience of adaptive behavior. I am interested in how animals acquire information about their environment and use this information to make decisions and plan for future events. To address these topics, I use procedures from instrumental and Pavlovian conditioning. These procedures allow me to examine learning (e.g., acquisition of action-outcome or stimulus-outcome relationships); motivation (e.g., effects of hunger and satiety on performance); and decision making (e.g., choice between different actions). Furthermore, these procedures allow me to examine the effects of learning on motivation (e.g., conditioned craving); the effects of motivational states on decision making (e.g., devaluation), and the effects of decision outcomes on learning (e.g., reinforcement learning).
In combination with these behavioral procedures, I employ techniques from behavioral and cellular neuroscience. These techniques include excitotoxic brain lesions, neural disconnection lesions, and temporary inactivation with microinfusions. I also use procedures to measure cellular signaling activity, such as immunohistochemistry and western blots. Finally, I am interested in the effects of repeated drug exposure on behavioral performance as it relates to the development of addiction.
Shiflett, M. W., J. C. Mauna, A. M. Chipman, E. Peet and E. Thiels (2009). Appetitive Pavlovian conditioned stimuli increase CREB phosphorylation in the nucleus accumbens. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory 92(3): 451-4.
Shiflett, M. W., R. P. Martini, J. C. Mauna, R. L. Foster, E. Peet and E. Thiels (2008). Cue-elicited reward-seeking requires extracellular signal-regulated kinase activation in the nucleus Accumbens. Journal of Neuroscience 28(6): 1434-1443.
Shiflett, M. W., M. L. Tomaszycki, A. Z. Rankin and T. J. DeVoogd (2004). Long-term memory for spatial locations in a food-storing bird (Poecile atricapilla) requires activation of NMDA receptors in the hippocampal formation during learning. Behavioral Neuroscience 118(1): 121-130.
Shiflett, M. W., A. Z. Rankin, M. L. Tomaszycki and T. J. DeVoogd (2004). Cannabinoid inhibition improves memory in food-storing birds, but with a cost. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B-Biological Sciences 271(1552): 2043-2048.
Shiflett, M. W., T. V. Smulders, L. Benedict and T. J. DeVoogd (2003). Reversible inactivation of the hippocampal formation in food-storing black-capped chickadees (Poecile atricapillus). Hippocampus 13(4): 437-444.