Paul Meyer

Ph.D. Graduate (2005)

meyerUndergraduate degree

B.S. (Psychology as a Natural Science) 1996, University of Michigan 

Training at OHSU

1999 - 2005

Second Year Project

The effect of MK-801 on ethanol sensitization. (Mentor: Tamara J. Phillips, Ph.D.


(2005) Neurochemical substrates of ethanol's locomotor effects. (Mentor: Tamara J. Phillips, Ph.D.

Current position

Assistant Professor
Behavioral Neuroscience Program
Department of Psychology
University at Buffalo, SUNY



Background and Interests 

I've always found it fascinating that small molecules such as alcohol and morphine can come to control complex behaviors like drinking and elicit addictive behaviors. I worked as a technician in Harriet deWit's human behavioral psychopharmacology laboratory at the University of Chicago; where I learned that an individual's response to an abused drug depends on a number of factors, ranging from social to biological. I became very interested in the biological and genetic aspects of addiction, but found that many of my questions could not be answered using human subjects. When I asked Dr. deWit her thoughts, she said "You should go to OHSU for graduate school, they have excellent faculty that is focused on addiction yet will provide you with broad neuroscience training". So I did that. Through my graduate studies, I became interested in the idea that abused drugs act through some neurochemical pathways, especially those involving the neurotransmitters dopamine and glutamate. My dissertation work with Tamara Phillips involved testing genetically distinct populations of mice for their responses to alcohol, and whether these responses were related to alcohol's effects on glutamaterigc and dopaminergic systems. The great thing about the highly interactive nature of the Department of Behavioral Neuroscience is that its trainees are kept up to date with research in their own and related fields. For example, I learned through courses and seminars that dopamine and glutamate systems play important roles in reinforcement learning, and that drugs of abuse may cause addictive disorders by hijacking these systems, suggesting that drug addiction could be thought of, in some instances, as a dopamine-dependent associative learning disorder. This, to me, is an intriguing idea, and I've dedicated my career to studying the role of dopamine in responding to drug- and motivationally-relevant stimuli. The techniques I've used have been as simple as measuring locomotion in mice and as complex as using patch clamp electrophysiology in brain slices. Currently, my laboratory at SUNY Buffalo studies how neurons within the limbic system encode stimuli that predict food and drug reward, and how this encoding related to the propensity to engage in addiction-related behaviors.


Paolone G, Angelakos CC, Meyer PJ, Robinson TE, Sarter M (2013) "Cholinergic control over attention in rats prone to attribute incentive salience to reward cues" Journal of Neuroscience 33: in press

Meyer PJ, Lovic V, Saunders BT, Yager LM, Flagel SB, Morrow JD & Robinson TE (2012) "Quantifying individual variation in the propensity to attribute incentive salience to reward cues" PLoS One.

Pastor R, Reed C, Meyer PJ, McKinnon C, Ryabinin AE, Phillips TJ (2012) "Role of corticotropin releasing factor and corticosterone in ethanol-induced behavioral sensitization" Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapies. Feb 14 [Epub ahead of print]

Meyer PJ, Ma ST & Robinson TE (2012) "A cocaine cue is more preferred and evokes more frequency-modulated 50-kHz ultrasonic vocalizations in rats prone to attribute incentive salience to a food cue" Psychopharmacology. 219: 999-1009.

Meyer PJ, Morgan MM, Kozell LB & Ingram SL (2009) "Contribution of dopamine receptors to periaqueductal gray-mediated antinociception" Psychopharmacology. 204: 531-540.

Meyer PJ, Meshul CK, & Phillips TJ (2009) "Ethanol- and cocaine-induced locomotion are genetically related to increases in accumbal dopamine" Genes, Brain, & Behavior. 8: 346-355.

Meyer PJ, Fossum EN, Ingram SL, & Morgan MM (2007) "Analgesic tolerance to microinjection of the μ-opioid agonist DAMGO into the ventrolateral periaqueductal gray" Neuropharmacology. 52: 1580-1585.

Meyer PJ, Phillips TJ (2007) "Behavioral sensitization to ethanol does not results in cross-sensitization to NMDA antagonists" Psychopharmacology. 195: 103-115.

Holstein S, Pastor R, Meyer PJ, Phillips TJ (2005) Naloxone does not attenuate the locomotor effects of ethanol in FAST, SLOW, or two heterogeneous stocks of mice. Psychopharmacology. 182: 277-289.

Meyer PJ, Palmer AA, McKinnon C, Phillips TJ (2005) "Behavioral sensitization to ethanol is modulated by environmental conditions, but is not associated with cross-sensitization to allopregnanolone or pentobarbitol in DBA/2J mice". Neuroscience. 131: 263-273.

Meyer PJ, Phillips TJ (2003) "Sensitivity to ketamine, alone or in combination with ethanol, is altered in mice selectively bred for ethanol's locomotor effects". Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. 27: 1701-1709.

Meyer PJ, Phillips TJ (2003) "Bivalent effects of MK-801 on ethanol sensitization but no effect on tolerance to ethanol-induced ataxia". Behavioral Neuroscience. 117: 641-649.

Cunningham CL, Tull LE, Rindal KE, Meyer PJ (2002) "Distal and proximal pre-exposure to ethanol in place conditioning task: tolerance to aversive effects, sensitization to activating effect, but no change in rewarding effect". Psychopharmacology 160: 414-424.

King AC, Meyer PJ (2000) "Naltrexone-induced alterations of nicotine response in a cigarette smoking paradigm". Pharmacology, Biochemistry, & Behavior. 66: 563-72.

Date last updated: May 31, 2013