Our Faculty

headshot of Linda P. Spear

Linda P. Spear

Distinguished Professor

Psychology

Background

Research Summary
Research in the L. Spear lab uses focuses on basic research using a rat model to examine the behavioral neuroscience and psychopharmacological of development, with a particular emphasis on neurobehavioral function during adolescence and the acute and lasting effects of adolescent alcohol/drug use.

Techniques
Research in the L.Spear lab is question- rather than technique-driven, exploiting a variety of methodological approaches and collaborations with other laboratories to address questions of interest.Psychopharmacological and behavioral studies use behavioral tests that have been validated as appropriate indices of the constructs under investigation (e.g., social and non-social anxiety; impulsivity; incentive sensitization; aversive drug effects and so on) and for animals at different ages. Routine neurochemical assays include hormonal assays, assessment of blood and brain ethanol levels and, in conjunction with our collaborators, assessment of mRNA and protein levels using RT-PCR and Western blotting. Both wild-type and transgenic rats are used, with the latter currently focusing on the use of c-fos-LacZ transgenic rats to explore the causal role of activation of neuronal ensembles in target brain areas on ethanol-drinking, with a particular focus on drinking in a social context.

Mentoring and Teaching Philosophy:
Science is a life-long learning process that begins with the curiosity of infancy and continues throughout life for those who are passionate about science.Science faculty and students are on the same road of seeking knowledge and new discoveries, albeit at different points in the journey.I view mentoring as a bidirectional process of sharing knowledge and making discoveries.Mentors pass along knowledge and lessons they have learned from their pass scientific endeavors and continuing reading of the literature, while mentees provide unique perspectives and energy that help galvanize the field.At least 90% of what I learned in graduate school occurred outside the classroom – not only in the laboratory, but also through informal discussions with other students and faculty, and time set aside daily to read the research literature.I try to encourage my graduate students to pursue this critical outside-the-classroom education as well.Collegiality among trainees and with staff and colleagues is a must – collaboration rather than competition is a key aspect of the training program at Binghamton.My specific strategies for mentoring students in the laboratory are as diverse as the students themselves, with each trainee having unique strengths as well as areas that need extra attention.Some students work best without close direction, others need very frequent and patient monitoring, some benefit from a cheerleader to shore up confidence, others need to learn a bit of self-effacement.Everyone (students and faculty alike) benefit from an ongoing emphasis on honing their writing and improving oral presentation skills, including learning to communicate science to the public.

Representative publications:
Dannenhoffer, C.A., Kim, E.U., Saalfield, J., Werner, D.F., Varlinskaya, E.I. & Spear, L.P. (2018).Oxtyocin and vasopressin modulation of social anxiety following adolescent intermittent ethanol exposure.Psychopharmacology, doi: 10.1007/s00213-018-5003-8.

Kim, E.U., Varlinskaya, E.I., Dannenhoffer, C.A. & Spear, L.P. (2018).Adolescent intermittent ethanol exposure: Effects on pubertal development, novelty seeking and social interaction in adulthood.Alcohol, doi: 10.1016/j.alcohol.2018.05.002

Spear, L.P. (2018).Effects of adolescent alcohol consumption on the brain and behavior.Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 19: 197-214, doi: 10.1038/nrn.2018.10.PMID: 29467489

Hosova, D. & Spear, L.P. (2017).Voluntary binge consumption of ethanol in a sweetened, chocolate-flavored solution by male and female adolescent Sprague-Dawley rats.Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 41(3): 541-50.doi: 10.1111/acer.13315.PMID: 28195335PMCID: PMC5499524

Doremus-Fitzwater, T.L. & Spear, L.P. (2016).Reward-centricity and attenuated aversions: An adolescent phenotype emerging from studies in laboratory animals.Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews Special Issue “The Adolescent Brain,” 70: 121-34.doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2016.08.015.PMID: 27524639PMCID: PMC5612441

Varlinskaya, E.I, Kim, E.U. & Spear, L.P. (2016).Chronic intermittent ethanol exposure during adolescence: effects on stress-induced social alterations and social drinking in adulthood.Brain Research Special Issue: Adolescence as a Critical Period for Developmental Plasticity, 1654 (Pt B): 145-56. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2016.03.050.PMID: 27048754 PMCID: PMC5047849

Saalfield, J. & Spear, L.P. (2016).The ontogeny of ethanol aversion.Physiology & Behavior, 156: 164-70.doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2016.01.011.PMID: 26774181

Education

  • PhD, MS, University of Florida
  • BS, Western Illinois University

Research Interests

  • Developmental Psychopharmacology
  • Contributors to the propensity to initiate and escalate alcohol use during adolescence
  • Lasting neurobehavioral consequences of adolescent alcohol exposure
  • Alcohol drinking in a social context
  • Sex differences in sensitivity to alcohol and other drugs
  • Impact of stressors on alcohol sensitivity during development

Teaching Interests

  • Developmental Neuroplasticity
  • Developmental Psychopharmacology
  • Drugs and Behavior
  • Developmental Psychology

Awards

  • RSA Lifetime Achievement Award, Research Society on Alcoholism
  • Lois B. DeFleur Faculty Prize for Academic Achievement, Binghamton University
  • Henri Begleiter Excellence in Research Award, Research Society on Alcoholism
  • Mark Keller Honorary Lecture Award, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
  • Chancellor’s Research Recognition Award, State University of New York
  • University Award for Excellence in Research, Binghamton University
  • Elsevier Distinguished Lecturer Award, Neurobehavioral Teratology Society
  • R37 Merit Award, NIAAA
  • Elected Fellow: American Association for the Advancement of Science; International Behavioral Neuroscience Society; American Psychological Association; American Psychological Society

Research Profile

Curriculum Vitae

Curriculum Vitae