Graduate Studies Faculty

« Back to Search List

Garet Lahvis, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
Admin Unit: SOM-Behavioral Neuroscience Department
Phone: 503-346-0820
Lab Phone: 503-494-8464
Fax: 503-494-6877
Behavioral Neuroscience
Neuroscience Graduate Program
Research Interests:
social motivation, ultrasonic vocalizations, prosody, empathy, autism, genetics, environmental contaminants, children, mice » PubMed Listing
Preceptor Rotations
Dr. Lahvis has not indicated availability for preceptor rotations at this time.
Faculty Mentorship
Dr. Lahvis has not indicated availability as a mentor at this time.

Read about Dr. Lahvis' Curt Johnson Prose Award in Creative Nonfiction for december magazine.

Summary of Current Research

Social interactions are highly responsive to the emotional states of the social participants. Among animals, social interactions are a mainstay of the laboratory setting and in the natural environment. The ability of an individual to regulate its social interactions requires, at a minimum, two abilities.  First, the individual must be able to express signals that communicate one's own emotions, such as anger, fear, or indifference. Second, the individual must indicate that it can recognize the signals of others. Among animals, these abilities are crucial for survival within demanding wild environments. Among humans, deficits in these abilities are featured in  addiction, depression, schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder, and pervasive developmental disorders, such as autism.    

To understand the regulation of social behavior, we study juvenile mice.  We examine how genetic and environmental variables influence the ability of juvenile mice to seek a social reward, to vocalize in response to changing social contexts, and to learn fear from observations of other mice that undergo environmental contingencies that promote fear learning. Genetic studies include the use of inbred strains and gene-targeted mice that are relevant to reward physiology and autism. Environmental studies focus on the effects of marine neurotoxins that contribute to pathologies in juvenile mouse social behavior.  We collaborate with The Marine Mammal Center in the Marin County headlands north of San Francisco to understand how early life brain lesions influence sea lion social behavior. We also employ brain-imaging techniques, such as glucose uptake and expression of immediate early genes, as well as metrics of systemic physiology, such as heart rate monitoring, to elucidate biological mechanisms of normal social behavior and its pathologies.


Selected publications are listed below.

Lahvis, GP, Alleva, E and Scattoni, M-L. 2011. Translating Mouse Vocalizations: Prosody and Frequency Modulation. Genes, Brain and Behavior. 10 (1) 4-16.  PMID:20497235. PMCID: PMC2936813 [Available on 2012/2/1]

Kennedy, BC, Panksepp, JB, Wong, JC, Krause, EJ and Lahvis, GP. 2011. Age-dependent and strain-dependent influences of morphine on mouse social investigation behavior. Behavioural Pharmacology. 22(2):147-59.

Panksepp JB and Lahvis, GP. 2011.  Rodent empathy and affective neuroscience. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews. 35:1864-1875. PMID: 21672550. PMCID: PMC3183383 [Available on 2012/10/1]

Bishop, SL and Lahvis, GP. 2011. The Autism Diagnosis in Translation: Shared Affect in Children and Mouse Models. Autism Research 4:317-335.
Kennedy, BC, Panksepp, JB, Runckel, PA, and Lahvis, GP. 2011. Social influences on morphine-conditioned place preference in adolescent BALB/cJ and C57BL/6J mice. Psychopharmacology [Epub ahead of print]
Lahvis, GP and Black, LM. 2011. Social Interactions in the Clinic and the Cage: Towards a Mouse Model of Autism In: Translational Animal Models of Behavioral Analysis. Ed: Jacob Raber, Humana Press (Springer). Neuromethods. 50:153-192.

Chen, Q, Panksepp, JB, and Lahvis, GP. 2009. Empathy is moderated by genetic background in mice. PLoS ONE. 2009;4(2):e4387.
Kuehl, D, Haebler, R, Potter, C, Lahvis, G, Donahue, M and Regal, R. 2009. PFOS and PFOSA in bottlenose dolphins: An investigation into two unusually high mortality epizootics. Reproductive Toxicology. 27(3-4):421-421.

Bunger, MK, Glover, E, Moran, SM, Walisser, JA, Lahvis, GP, Hsu, EL, and Bradfield, CA 2008. Abnormal Liver Development and Resistance to 2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin Toxicity in Mice Carrying a Mutation in the DNA Binding Domain of the Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor. Toxicological Sciences 106 (1) 83-92.
Panksepp, JB, Wong, JC, Kennedy, BC, and Lahvis, GP. 2008. Differential entrainment of a social rhythm in adolescent mice. Behavioural Brain Research. 195: (2) 239-245.

Panksepp JB, Jochman, K, Kim, JU, Koy, JJ, Wilson, ED, Chen, Q, Wilson CR and Lahvis, GP. 2007. Affiliative behavior, ultrasonic communication and social reward are influenced by genetic variation in adolescent mice. PLoS ONE. 2(4): e351.

Panksepp, JB and Lahvis, GP. 2007. Social reward among juvenile mice. Genes, Brain and Behavior. 6 (7), 661–671.
Lahvis, GP, Pyzaski, RW, Glover, E, McElwee, MK, Pitot, HC and Bradfield, CA. 2005. The aryl hydrocarbon receptor is required for developmental closure of the ductus venosus in the neonatal mouse. Molecular Pharmacology. 67: 714-720.

Lahvis, GP, Lindell, SL, Thomas, RS, McCuskey, RS, Murphy, C,  Glover, E, Bentz, M, Southard, J, and Bradfield, CA. 2000. Portosystemic shunting and persistent fetal vascular structures in aryl hydrocarbon - receptor deficient mice. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. 97: 10442-10447.

Lahvis, GP and Bradfield, CA. 1998. Ahr null alleles: distinctive or different? Biochem. Pharm. 56: 781-787.

Lahvis, GP, Wells, RS, Kuehl, DW, Stewart, JL, Rhinehart, HL and Via, CS. 1995. Decreased lymphocyte responses on free-ranging bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) are associated with increased concentrations of PCBs and DDT in peripheral blood. Environmental Health Perspectives. 103:Suppl. 4:67-72.