Westminster College Assistant Professor and Alumna Present Research at Neuroscience Conference, Professor Published

Monday, November 12, 2012

NEW WILMINGTON, Pa. - Dr. Robin McGovern, assistant professor of behavioral neuroscience, and Westminster College alumna Kristina Scanlan `12 presented research at the Society for Neuroscience Annual Conference Oct. 13-17 in New Orleans.

"The Role of Oxytocin, Vasopressin, and D-cycloserine in Remediating Social Behavior in Rats with Amygdala Lesions" explores the use of compounds oxytocin, arginine vasopressin, D-cycloserine, and D-cycloserine plus oxytocin as therapeutic agents using an established animal model of autism. The results demonstrated that the sex of the rats affected treatment efficacy and differences in social behavior.

Scanlan was able to travel to the conference through an award granted by Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience (FUN) and was sponsored by Noldus. She was nominated for the award by McGovern.

"This award is special for her because it is given to students whose work is ‘good enough' to be presented on the main floor of the conference," McGovern said.

Scanlan, a 2012 graduate in neuroscience, is a daughter of Roger and Michele Scanlan of Ebensburg and a graduate of Central Cambria High School.

McGovern also co-authored an article for Psychopharmacology.

"Interactive Effects of Methylphenidate and Alcohol on Discrimination, Conditioned Place Preference and Motor Coordination in C57BL/6J" is based on prior research that indicates methylphenidate (MPH), better known as Ritalin ®, and alcohol (ethanol, EtOH) interact to potentiate subjective responses in humans, locomotor activity in mice, and, uniquely, increase pharmacologically active d-isomer of MPH and the inactive transesterification metabolite, l-ethylphenidate (EPH). The aim of the present studies was to test the hypothesis that MPH and EtOH interact to affect behavior by increasing the d-isomer of MPH.

Several behavioral tasks were used to come to the conclusion that the enhanced behavioral effects when EtOH is combined with MPH are likely due to the selective increase in brain d-MPH concentrations.

McGovern, who joined the faculty in 2011, earned an undergraduate degree in psychology from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Ph.D. in neuroscience from the Medical University of South Carolina. 

Contact McGovern at (724) 946-8166 or email for additional information.

About Westminster College...
Founded in 1852 and related to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Westminster College ranks first in the nation as "Best College for Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math," according to Forbes.com. Westminster is a top-tier liberal arts college and a national leader in graduation rate performance, according to U.S. News Best Colleges guide. Westminster is also honored as one of "The Best 377 Colleges" by The Princeton Review, and is named to the President's Honor Roll for excellence in service learning.

Nearly 1,600 undergraduate and graduate students benefit from individualized attention from dedicated faculty while choosing from 41 majors and nearly 100 organizations on the New Wilmington, Pa., campus. Visit www.westminster.edu/advantage to view "Advantage: Westminster" A Strategic Plan 2010-2020.


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Dr. Robin McGovern, assistant professor of behavioral neuroscience