Department of Psychology
Department of Psychology

Christopher Robison

Post Doctoral ResearcherPh.D., Florida State University

Postdoctoral Fellow, Neuroendocrinology and Motivation Lab



Neuroendocrine regulation of motivated behavior, Biological factors underlying individual differences, Gasotransmission


I started my research career as a technician at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research investigating posttraumatic stress models in mice. During this time, I received my undergraduate degree in zoology from the University of Maryland at College Park. Afterward, I worked at the Institute of Chemical Defense, where I studied the sequelae of and medical interventions for cholinesterase-inhibiting nerve agent exposure in guinea pigs and rats. This research included cataloging the long-term behavioral and neuropathological effects of nerve agent exposure.

I went on to pursue my doctorate degree at the Florida State University, where I studied under Professor Elaine Hull. It's there that I first developed and explored many of my current research interests. My primary work focused on the effects of carbon monoxide on sex and stress behaviors in rats. I found that carbon monoxide gas in a small area of the anterior hypothalamus is capable of improving an animal's copulatory behaviors and reducing its stress behaviors. This was the first work to show a behavioral role of carbon monoxide in the hypothalamus, where the gaseous neurotransmitter nitric oxide was previously known to be important. I also investigated differences between mating behavior and cocaine in the regulation of the delta-FosB transcription factor in this brain area. These research projects sparked my interest in the influence of the hypothalamus on motivated behaviors.

After receiving my Ph.D. in late 2014, I came to the University of Texas to train under Professor Juan Dominguez in the neuroendocrinology and motivation laboratory. Here, my research has focused on the regulation of the extended reward circuit and how it is influenced by hormones. I currently research how hypothalamic brain areas such as the medial preoptic area influence how an animal responds to drugs and how hormonal manipulations (such as estradiol and other steroid hormones) affect this response. This research is important because it illustrated how and why hormones are able to exert an effect on drug response, which can drive both susceptibility to and resilience from drug abuse and addiction.

If you have any questions about my interests or research, don't hesitate to email me at:


Robison CL, McHenry JA, Adams KJ, Bass MN, Cirino TJ, Hernandez OK, Norris SA, Hull EM. Carbon monoxide in the preoptic hypothalamus regulates reproductive and anxiety behaviors in male rats. (submitted) 2017.

Robison CL, McHenry JA, Hull EM. Increased expression of carbon monoxide-producing enzymes in the MPOA after sexual experience in male rats. Physiol Behav. 2017 Mar 15;171:149-157. doi:10.1016/j.physbeh.2017.01.016. Epub 2017 Jan 12. PubMed PMID: 28088559.

McHenry JA, Robison CL, Bell GA, Vialou VV, Bolaños-Guzmán CA, Nestler EJ, Hull EM. The role of ΔfosB in the medial preoptic area: Differential effects of mating and cocaine history. Behav Neurosci. 2016 Oct;130(5):469-78. doi: 10.1037/bne0000160. PubMed PMID: 27657309; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5201202.

Nutsch VL, Will RG, Robison CL, Martz JR, Tobiansky DJ, Dominguez JM. Colocalization of Mating-Induced Fos and D2-Like Dopamine Receptors in the Medial Preoptic Area: Influence of Sexual Experience. Front Behav Neurosci. 2016 Apr 18;10:75. doi: 10.3389/fnbeh.2016.00075. eCollection 2016. PubMed PMID: 27147996; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4834303.

Pizarro JM, Chang WE, Bah MJ, Wright LK, Saviolakis GA, Alagappan A, Robison CL, Shah JD, Meyerhoff JL, Cerasoli DM, Midboe EG, Lumley LA. Repeated exposure to sublethal doses of the organophosphorus compound VX activates BDNF expression  in mouse brain. Toxicol Sci. 2012 Apr;126(2):497-505. doi: 10.1093/toxsci/kfr353. Epub 2012 Jan 12. PubMed PMID: 22240983.

Spradling KD, Lumley LA, Robison CL, Meyerhoff JL, Dillman JF 3rd. Transcriptional responses of the nerve agent-sensitive brain regions amygdala, hippocampus, piriform cortex, septum, and thalamus following exposure to the organophosphonate anticholinesterase sarin. J Neuroinflammation. 2011 Jul
21;8:84. doi: 10.1186/1742-2094-8-84. PubMed PMID: 21777430; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3180277.

Robison CL, Meyerhoff JL, Saviolakis GA, Chen WK, Rice KC, Lumley LA. A CRH1 antagonist into the amygdala of mice prevents defeat-induced defensive behavior.  Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2004 Dec;1032:324-7. PubMed PMID: 15677442.

Spradling KD, Lumley LA, Robison CL, Meyerhoff JL, Dillman JF 3rd. Transcriptional analysis of rat piriform cortex following exposure to the organophosphonate anticholinesterase sarin and induction of seizures. J Neuroinflammation. 2011 Jul 21;8:83. doi: 10.1186/1742-2094-8-83. PubMed PMID: 21777429; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3199787.

Dawood MY, Lumley LA, Robison CL, Saviolakis GA, Meyerhoff JL. Accelerated Barnes maze test in mice for assessment of stress effects on memory. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2004 Dec;1032:304-7. PubMed PMID: 15677437.

Pizarro JM, Lumley LA, Medina W, Robison CL, Chang WE, Alagappan A, Bah MJ, Dawood MY, Shah JD, Mark B, Kendall N, Smith MA, Saviolakis GA, Meyerhoff JL. Acute social defeat reduces neurotrophin expression in brain cortical and subcortical areas in mice. Brain Res. 2004 Oct 29;1025(1-2):10-20. PubMed PMID: 15464739.

Lumley LA, Robison CL, Chen WK, Mark B, Meyerhoff JL. Vasopressin into the preoptic area increases grooming behavior in mice. Physiol Behav. 2001 Jul;73(4):451-5. PubMed PMID: 11495648.

Lumley LA, Robison CL, Slusher BS, Wozniak K, Dawood M, Meyerhoff JL. Reduced isolation-induced aggressiveness in mice following NAALADase inhibition. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2004 Feb;171(4):375-81. Epub 2003 Nov 21. PubMed PMID: 14634711.

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