Erin Naffziger

Biopsychology PhD Candidate

Curriculum Vitae

What brain regions are responsible for guiding motivation to food, drugs, and sex? How might these brain regions become ‘hijacked’ in the case of addiction or compulsive behaviors? With these question in mind, my research focuses on the ability of amygdala nuclei to generate and bias incentive motivation for one particular reward (e.g. sugar rewards, cocaine infusions, or a social partner).

Current Projects

Investigating how the medial amygdala focuses motivation for both natural rewards- sociosexual rewards (social partner) or food rewards (sugar pellets), and drug rewards (intravenous cocaine)

Generating incentive motivation for rewards (cocaine or sugar) and an aversive shock rod (delivering a minor shock upon contacts), as a result of activating the central amygdala

Analyzing distant fos to reveal larger circuits involved in central or medial amygdala generation of motivation
Exploring self-stimulation behaviors in medial amygdala


Optogenetics, fluorescence microscopy, iontophoresis, immunohistochemistry, and behavioral assays such as: operant testing (self-administration of cocaine and/or sucrose), shock rod testing, self-stimulation testing, and social interaction testing.