Home / Research / Labs / Basic Behavioral Processes Lab (Sanabria)

Basic Behavioral Processes Lab (Sanabria)

Keywords:  learning; time perception; response inhibition; choice; animal models; computational models

Lab Research Area:

Our lab uses detailed analyses of animal behavior to investigate basic behavioral and cognitive processes and their implication in behavioral dysregulation. Common focuses of this research include timing, learning, decision-making, and impulsivity. The BBP lab relies on the collection of high-resolution operant behavioral data, the development of mathematical models of learning and behavior, and on the design of novel behavioral paradigms for use in animal models.

Current Projects

Stress and Interval Timing. Stress can challenge physiological homeostasis in the nervous system, which can result in compromised cognitive function, including a deficit in interval timing, the ability to track time in the seconds-to-minutes range. Recent studies have shown that many of the neural structures that help track the passage of time, including the striatum, hippocampus, and prefrontal cortex, are also morphologically sensitive to chronic stress. We are currently utilizing a chronic variable stress protocol in rats to investigate the effects of stress on various components of the pacemaker-accumulator model of prospective and retrospective interval timing. Additionally, by studying stress-induced changes in dendritic morphology in target regions, we are working to gain insight on the regions involved in stress-induced timing effects.

Structure and Neurobiology of Interval Timing. Our lab uses computational models of real-time behavior to analytically dissociate changes in learning and motivation in temporally- controlled behavior. The neural basis of interval timing remains elusive. Although there are established relationships between a diverse range of brain structures and interval timing capacity, a robust circuit-level account of interval timing has yet to be established. By combining microstructural analysis of behavioral timing paradigms with pharmacological treatments, lesion studies, and subsequent computational modeling of neural and behavioral measures, our lab is working to investigate the role of the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex in timing.

Temporal, spatial, and olfactory control of behavior. Our laboratory is concerned with dissociating timing processes from non-timing processes embedded within instrumental behavior. To accomplish this, our laboratory has examined a novel timing paradigm, has compared performance in this task across species, including humans, and has examined the sensitivity of task performance to nicotine administration. On the spatial dimension, we have demonstrated the contribution of spatial variables (motion and correlation) to Pavlovian sign-tracking. On the olfactory dimension, we have recently explored how odor objects are represented in the brains of mice, including a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease.

Principal Investigator & Lab Director

Dr. Federico Sanabria, PhD; Associate Professor (CV)

Dr. Sanabria

 

 

 

 

Dr. Sanabria’s expertise is on the experimental investigation of basic behavioral and cognitive processes underlying behavioral regulation in various species. He is also interested in the application of this research to the study of psychiatric disorders — primarily substance abuse and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Dr. Sanabria is past-president of the International Society for Comparative Psychology, associate editor of Learning & Behavior, and program board coordinator for the annual convention of the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI).

Current Doctoral Student

Tanya Gupta, M.A. (ASU Profile


Tanya is interested in the structure of temporal behavioral, as well as biological indices of interval timing and learning. She is also interested in establishing relationships between animal behaviors and the brain structures which facilitate them, and investigating the computational structure of these connections using mathematical models of behavior. Her work has focused on within-session changes in time-based responses, olfactory discrimination in mice, the effect of chronic stress on interval timing, and the role of the hippocampus in temporally entrained behavior. Tanya graduated from Illinois Wesleyan University in 2017 with a B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Biology. Master’s Thesis - Effects of Skewed Probe Distributions on Temporal Bisection in Rats: Factors in the Judgment of Ambiguous Intervals.

 

Current Undergraduate and Post-Baccalaureate Students

Julia Guido, Amara Miller, Ritika Gupta, Ramisa Alam, Kiram Tung, Anna Yee, Michael Piedra Gonzalez, Jasmine Garcia, Nathaniel Smith, Logan Gilliland, Tristan Lyle, Caitlin LaForest, Bridgitte Cote.

 

Join the Lab!

What you may expect from the lab:

Work in the lab consists of 9 h/week of various duties involving laboratory animals (typically rats and mice). The schedule and nature of these duties are arranged between new lab members and their supervisor before joining the lab. Laboratory duties typically include monitoring the welfare of laboratory animals, transporting them to testing rooms, verifying the integrity of testing equipment and data, and regularly presenting data to other lab members. Interested lab members with sufficient experience (typically with at least 6 months of experience in the lab) may lead their own projects, present posters at scientific conferences, and serve as co-authors in peer-reviewed scientific publications.

You may expect to learn empirical and analytic techniques that are key to conduct research on animal behavior and cognition. You may also broaden your knowledge on animal models of psychiatric disorders such as substance use disorder and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Work and learning is expected to complement each other, and to take place in a collegial, cooperative environment.

What the lab expects from you:

All lab members are expected to:

  • Work in the laboratory a minimum of 9 h/week (3 credit hours/semester) for each of 2 academic semesters (this includes the week of final exams in each semester).
  • Students taking PSY 499 credit or supported by WAESO for work in the lab, are expected to write a report of their work by the end of the semester in which they were supported.
  • Performance in the lab is expected to be punctual, dedicated, and conscientious.

If you are interested in joining the lab, send an email to Tanya Gupta at tgupta13@asu.edu. If there is an opening available, an interview and lab tour will be arranged.

Alumni

Past Ph.D. Students

Dr. Carter Daniels (2018) – Currently Postdoctoral Fellow at Columbia University

Dr. Ryan Brackney (2015) – Currently Lead Data Scientist at Blizzard Entertainment

Dr. Elizabeth Watterson (2015)

Dr. Gabriel Mazur (2014) – Currently NH Program Director at NeuroInternational

 Past Visiting Scholars

Cristina Dos Santos (Universidade de Aveiro)

Angel Jimenez Ortiz (Universidad de Guadalajara, Mexico)

Javier Ibias (Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia, Spain)

Beatriz Robayo (Universidad de Guadalajara, Mexico)

Pablo Covarrubias (Universidad de Guadalajara, Mexico)

Felipe Cabrera (Universidad de Guadalajara, Mexico)

 

Select and Recent Publications

For a full list of publications please visit Dr. Federico Sanabria’s Google scholar profile.

Most Recent 10 Publications:

2019

Gupta, T. A., Daniels, C. W., Ortiz, J. B., Stephens, M., Overby, P., Romero, K., ... & Sanabria, F. (2019). The differential role of the dorsal hippocampus in initiating and terminating timed responses: A lesion study using the switch-timing task. Behavioural brain research376, 112184.

Sanabria, F., Daniels, C. W., Gupta, T., & Santos, C. (2019). A computational formulation of the behavior systems account of the temporal organization of motivated behavior. Behavioural processes, 103952.

 

2018

Daniels, C. W., Overby, P. F., & Sanabria, F. (2018). Between-session memory degradation accounts for within-session changes in fixed-interval performance. Behavioural processes153, 31-39.

 Overby, P. F., Daniels, C. W., Del Franco, A., Goenaga, J., Powell, G. L., Gipson, C. D., & Sanabria, F. (2018). Effects of nicotine self-administration on incentive salience in male Sprague Dawley rats. Psychopharmacology235(4), 1121-1130.

 Romero, K., Daniels, C. W., Gipson, C. D., & Sanabria, F. (2018). Suppressive and enhancing effects of nicotine on food-seeking behavior. Behavioural brain research339, 130-139.

 Brackney, R. J., Cheung, T. H., & Sanabria, F. (2017). A bout analysis of operant response disruption. Behavioural processes141, 42-49.

 Daniels, C. W., & Sanabria, F. (2017). About bouts: A heterogeneous tandem schedule of reinforcement reveals dissociable components of operant behavior in Fischer rats. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Learning and Cognition43(3), 280.

News & more

The BBP lab recently published an article in a special “Time and Brain” issue of Behavioural Brain Research, regarding the role of the dorsal hippocampus in the initiation and termination of timed responses. The full article can be found here.