Dominic Dwyer

Based at the School of Psychology.

Research interests

Animal models are of critical importance in investigating the underlying biological contributions to many human disorders such as depression, schizophrenia, or obesity. To fully understand these animal models we require ways to assess how animals feel, as well as how they think.

As it happens, a detailed examination of the way in which rodents drink is particularly informative with respect to how much they like what they are drinking (e.g. rats tend to produce few, but rather long, bouts of licks when they like the solution they are drinking but the length of the bouts decreases, while the number of bouts can increase, with less palatable solutions).

Research in my lab is currently using this technique to investigate how animals learn to like and dislike particular foods and also how such hedonic processes are affected in animal models of human disorders.

Facilities

In addition to the shared surgical and histological facilities in the behavioural neuroscience facility as a whole, my laboratory is equipped with multiple stations dedicated to the recording and analysis of rodent drinking behaviour and computer-controlled operant chambers for more general behavioural testing.

Available PhD projects

  1. Anhedonia in animal models for depression
  2. Neural, affective, motivational, and cognitive effects in animal models for schizophrenia
  3. Conditioned and unconditioned responses to food
  4. Central and peripheral determinants of grazing's effect on obesity (with Dr Timothy Wells)

Research keywords

Psychopharmacology, animal models of mental disorders, hedonic reactions, food preference.