We explore the neural and behavioural features of memory across development.


Early Life Adversity

Early life adversity is a major risk factor for the development of both physical and mental health problems.   

We examine the effects of early life adversity on fear memory, extinction, and anxiety-like behaviour, as well as the neural bases of these effects.  Further, we are also interested in potential treatments that can ameliorate the effects of early life adversity, such as probiotics.

Recent publications:
Richardson, R., Bowers, J., Callaghan, B.L., & Baker, K.D. (2021). Does maternal separation accelerate maturation of perineuronal nets and parvalbumin-containing inhibitory interneurons in male and female rats? Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, 47, 100905.

Cowan, C.S.M., Stylianakis, A.A., & Richardson, R. (2019). Early life stress, microbiota, and brain development: probiotics reverse the effects of maternal separation on neural circuits underpinning fear expression and extinction in infant rats. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, 37, 100627.

Elliott, N. & Richardson, R. (2019). The effects of early life stress on context fear generalisation in adult rats. Behavioral Neuroscience, 133, 150.

Kan, J.M. & Richardson, R. (2018). Ghost of mother's past: previous maternal stress leads to altered maternal behavior following a subsequent pregnancy in rats. Developmental Psychobiology, 60, 278-291. 


Fear and Extinction during Adolescence

Many anxiety disorders emerge during adolescence. Unfortunately, standard treatments for anxiety (such as exposure therapy) are less effective in this population.

We investigate possible neural mechanisms underlying the adolescent impairment in extinction, as well as behavioural and pharmacological methods to resolve this deficit. Furthermore, we examine the effects of poor diet and chronic stress on fear and extinction learning during this developmental window.

Recent publications:
Bisby, M.A., Richardson, R., & Baker, K.D. (2020). Developmental differences in the effects of CB1/2R agonist WIN55212-2 on extinction of learned fear. Progress in Neuropsychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry, 99, 109834.

Stylianakis, A.A., Richardson, R., & Baker, K.D.,(2019). Timing is everything: developmental differences in the effect of chronic corticosterone on extinction retention. Behavioral Neuroscience, 133, 467.

Zimmerman, K.S., Richardson, R., & Baker, K.D. (2019). Maturational changes in prefrontal and amygdala circuits in adolescence: implications for understanding fear inhibition during a vulnerable period of development. Brain Sciences, 9, 65.


Individual Differences

There are substantial individual differences in how humans and animals respond to stress. These differences partially explain who will be "resilient" and who will be "vulnerable" following stress exposure or trauma.

We examine individual differences in fear learning and memory, anxiety-like behaviour, and response to extinction-enhancing pharmacological adjuncts. In addition, we also examine biomarkers associated with this individual differences.  

Recent publications:
Harmon-Jones, S.K. & Richardson, R. (2021). Maternal care, infant fear memory retention, and the moderating role of variations in separation-induced ultrasonic vocalizations. Developmental Psychobiology, 63, e22177.

Harmon-Jones, S.K., Cowan, C.S.M., Shnier, N., Richardson, R. (2020) Is good memory always a good thing? An early offset of infantile amnesia predicts anxiety-like behavior throughout development in rats. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 135, 103763.  

King, G., Graham, B.M., & Richardson, R. (2018). Effects of d-cycloserine on individual differences in relapse of fear. Progress in Neuropsychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry, 84, 115-121.

King, G., Graham, B.M., & Richardson, R. (2018). Individual differences in fear relapse. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 100, 37-43. 

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