University of Evansville

Psychology

Psychology students at the University of Evansville have their choice among numerous programs, offering them the tools they will need to succeed regardless of which area they choose to pursue after graduation.

Behavioral and Neuroscience Lab

Nerolab paper

The Behavioral Neuroscience Laboratory provides an environment where student and faculty researchers study the effect of phytoestrogens on the behavior of developing rats. Phytoestrogens are plant-derived estrogens present in a variety of plant products. Isoflavones are the most common phytoestrogens as they can be found in alfalfa and red clover as well as in soybeans and plants used in fermenting beverages such as beer, red wine and bourbon. Specific isoflavones, genistein and diadzein, are very similar in structure to human steroidal estrogen. These isoflavones have protective effects against specific types of breast and colon cancer in women who are postmenopausal.

Estrogens can affect various aspects of sex-specific development. Additionally, phytoestrogens are wide-spread and available in food and as supplements aimed at women. However, phytoestrogens consumed by the mother during pregnancy and lactation could alter development of a fetal or newborn mammal. The current lab research studies the behavior of the newborn and pre/post adolescent rat to examine effects of phytoestrogens during early periods of sex-specific development.

Grants

  • Burns, L., Pleen, J., & Becker, L. A. (2004). The effects of prenatal phytoestrogen exposure in rats on social behaviors as exhibited by the ultrasonic vocalizations of rats. UExplore Undergraduate Research Grant, University of Evansville, $1672.
  • Ball, E., & Becker, L. A. (2003). The effects of phytoestrogens on the brain development of male rats. UExplore Undergraduate Research Grant, University of Evansville, $4758.
  • Brown, M., & Becker, L. A. (2003). The effects of prenatal phytoestrogen exposure in rats on social behaviors. UExplore Undergraduate Research Grant, University of Evansville, $526.

Publication

  • Becker, L. A., Kunkel, A. J., Brown, M., Ball, E. E, Williams, M. T. (2005). Effects of dietary phytoestrogen exposure during perinatal period. Neurotoxicology and Teratology, 27(6) 825 - 834.

Research Assistants

  • Current: Kym Knust, Alex Bies, Beth O'Donnel, Aaron Story, Adam Barker.
  • Past: Erin Ball, Michelle Brown, Lindsey Burns, Paul Gadient, Jessica Johnson, Nick Jones, Aaron Kunkle,Bryanna Lawler, Kaley Parker, Stephanie Pemberton, Joseph Pleen, Megan Snyder, Penny Stewart, Josh Yeager, and Nick Yeager.