Brenda Anderson, Ph.D.
University of Illinois (1993)
Associate Professor, Integrative Neuroscience
Office: Psychology B-216
Office Hours: Flexible, by appointment
Phone Number: (631) 632-7821


Areas of Interest:
Exercise, Stress, Anatomical plasticity, Quantitative neuroanatomy

Current Research:
Brenda Anderson's lab focuses on the role the environment plays in shaping behavior and the brain. In the past we have studied exercise effects on learning, anatomy, and vulnerability to seizures.

More recently, we have developed a novel living environment for rats that will allow us to systematically manipulate environmental factors implicated in stress. Our first use of this platform has been to test the effects of psychological stress by presenting repeated unpredictable threats without harm. Repeated unpredictable threats (uncertainty) enhanced defensive behaviors, elevated baseline startle and impaired learning in neutral environments. Overall, this pattern of effects matches hypervigilance, a core feature of PTSD.

The lab uses the following methods:

A broad set of behavioral measures. Cytochrome oxidase histochemistry as a measure of metabolic plasticity. Stereological methods for quantitative measures at the light and electron microscopic level of analysis.

Representative Publications:

Tata, D., Marciano, V. and Anderson, B. (2006) Synapse loss from chronically elevated glucocorticoids: Relationship to neuropil volume and cell number in hippocampal area CA3, Journal of Comparative Neurology, 498, 363-374.

Tata, D.A. and Anderson, B.J. (2009). The effects of chronic glucocorticoid exposure on dendritic length, synapse numbers and glial volume in animal models: implications for hippocampal volume reductions in depression. Physiology and Behavior, 99(2), 186-193.

Anderson, B. J., Greenwood, S.J. and McCloskey, D. (2010). Exercise as an intervention for the age-related decline in neural metabolic support. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, 2, 30.

Anderson, B. J. (2011). Plasticity of gray matter volume: The cellular and synaptic plasticity that underlies volumetric change. Developmental Psychobiology, 53:456-65.

Coburn-Litvak, P. S., Tata, D. A., Gorby, H. E., Richardson, G., McCloskey, D. P., and Anderson, B. J. (2004). Chronic corticosterone reduces brain weight, and mitochondrial, but not glial volume fraction in area CA3, Neuroscience,124, 429-438.

Coburn-Litvak, P. S., Pothakos, K., Tata, D. A., McCloskey, D. P., and Anderson, B. J., (2003). Chronic administration of corticosterone impairs spatial reference memory before spatial working memory in rats, Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, 80, 11-23.

McCloskey, D. P., Adamo, D. S., Anderson, B. J. (2001). Exercise increases metabolic capacity in the motor cortex and striatum, but not in the hippocampus. Brain Research, 891, 168-175.

Anderson, B. J., Rapp, D. N., Baek, D. H., McCloskey, D. P., Coburn-Litvak, P. S., and Robinson, J. K. (2000) Exercise influences spatial learning in the radial arm maze. Physiology and Behavior, 70, 425-429.