Faculty & Staff
Areas of Expertise
Brain changes underlying psychostimulant abuse; the female body’s natural response to pain, immediately preceding pregnancy and during delivery
PhD, Northeastern University
Professional Publications & Contributions
- CUNNINGHAM, S.T., STEINMAN, J.L., WHIPPLE, B., MAYER, A.D., KOMISARUK, B.R. Differential roles of hypogastric and pelvic nerves in the analgesia and motoric effects of vaginocervical stimulation in rats. Brain Res., 559:373-434, 1991.
- CUNNINGHAM, S.T., ROSENBLATT, J.S., KOMISARUK, B.R. Evidence that caesarian-section induced ovulation in the rat is mediated by the pelvic and hypogastric nerves. Neuroendocrinol., 56:393, 1992.
- CUNNINGHAM, S.T., KELLEY, A.E. Opiate infusion into nucleus accumbens: Contrasting effects on motor activity and responding for conditioned reward Brain Res. 588:104, 1992.
- CUNNINGHAM, S.T., KELLEY, A.E. Hyperactivity and sensitization to psychostimulants following cholera toxin infusion into the nucleus accumbens. J. Neurosci., 13:2342-2350, 1993.
- CUNNINGHAM, S.T., FINN, M.E., KELLEY, A.E. Cross-sensitization between morphine and amphetamine in motor activity: role of the nucleus accumbens. Neuropsychopharmacol., 16:147-55, 1997.
- BOYLE, T.J., MASUDA, T., CUNNINGHAM, S.T. Effects of a kappa agonist, spiradoline mesylate (U62,066E), on activation and vaginocervical-stimulation produced analgesia in rats. Brain Res. Bull., 2001, 54:213-218, 2001.
- NEUGEBAUER, N., CUNNINGHAM, S.T. Prenatal cocaine and postnatal housing effects on open-field behavior in female rats. Neurobehav. Teratol. Soc., 51, 2002.
- SELL, S.L., THOMAS, M.L., CUNNINGHAM, S.T. Effects of estrous cycle and estradiol on behavioral sensitization to cocaine in female rats. Drug Alcohol Depend. 67:281-290, 2002.
- NEUGEBAUER, N., CUNNINGHAM, S.T., ZHU, J., BRYANT, MIDDLETON, L.S., R., DWOSKIN, L. Prenatal cocaine and environmental enrichment modulate open field activity, social interaction, and medial prefrontal cortex dopamine transporter function in adult rats. Dev. Brain Res., 153 (2):213-23, 2004.
- CUNNINGHAM, S.T., WALDON, Z.O., SHAW, L.F., BARDO, M.T. Gender differences in response to stress after prenatal cocaine exposure. Bethesda, MD: NIDA Res Monograph 185, pp.175-195, 2005.
- SELL, S.L., DILLON, A.M., CUNNINGHAM, S.T. AND THOMAS, M.L. Estrous cycle influence on individual differences in the response to novelty and cocaine in female rats. Behav. Brain Res.,161:69-74, 2005.
- CUNNINGHAM, S.T., LACEY-LOYA, S., BOYLE, T.J. The role of adenosine receptors in antinociception produced by vaginocervical stimulation of the rat. In press, Neuroendocrinol., 2006.
- PETERS, J.R., VALLIE, B., DIFRONZO, M., DONALDSON, S.T. Role of dopamine D1 receptors in novelty seeking in adult female Long-Evans rats, Brain Res. Bull. 74:232–236, 2007.
- DONALDSON, S.T., DIFRONZO, M., RAVENELLE, T., Prenatal cocaine effects on GABA neuron morphology and stress response in Long-Evans rats. Under Review (2013), Neuroscience
- CHOLANIAN, M., LOBZOVA, A., DAB, B., YELLESWARAPU, C. DONALDSON, S.T. Evidence for increased neurobehavioral sensitization following acute treatment with D-amphetamine in ovariectomized rats. Revise and Re-Submit (2013), Brain Res.
- RAVENELLE, B., BYRNES, E.M., BYRNES, J.J., PARK, J.H. DONALDSON, S.T. Molecular and hormonal changes modulate trait anxiety and postnatal housing effects on emotionality and amphetamine sensitivity. Behav. BrainRes. 252, 49-57, 2013.
- WAGNER, M., MATHIAS, H., TRAWCZYNSKI, POLLACK, A., DONALDSON, S.T. Behavioral sensitization to amphetamine is influenced by environmental cues and NMDA receptors in the hippocampus. Under Review DrugsAlcohol Depend.
- BERMAN, A.K., LOTT, R.B., DONALDSON,, S.T. Periodic maternal deprivation may modulate offspring anxiety-like behavior through mechanisms involving neuroplasticity in the amygdala. Brain Res Bull Revise and Re-submit (Oct 2013)
Dr. Donaldson’s research is focused on understanding the intersect of biological (e.g, sex and personality traits) and environmental factors that create vulnerabilities to drug addiction. She uses a rodent model to explore biological sex differences and trait anxiety and pathways to drug addiction, and how these factors may make some rodents more sensitive to stimulant drugs, more likely to show impulsive behavior and relapse. She breeds her own trait anxiety animals at the University of Massachusetts vivarium to create high (HAn) and low anxiety (LAn) animals to explore the cellular and molecular factors to create this stimulant drug vulnerability profile. She is also interested in the biology-environment interaction and uses early interventions such as closed nesting (CN) environments during pre-weaning, brief periodic maternal separation and enrichment strategies to reverse vulnerable states.
Working in Dr. Donaldson’s lab you will be involved in animal husbandry, small animal survival surgery including ovariectomy, intra-cranial cannulation and injection, a host of behavioral testing (e.g., anxiogenic and repeated stress stimuli, cognitive, operant learning, activity) and post-mortem protein and cell morphology analysis (e.g., immunocytochemistry, Western blots, Golgi stain).
Behavioral Neuroscience (Psychology 260), Psychopharmacology (Psychology 362), Substance Abuse and the Brain (Psychology 363), Research Methods: Physiological (Psychology 469), Physiological Psychology (Psychology 660)