Gina Marie Fernandez
My fascination with the brain and behavior, and the interdisciplinary nature of behavioral neuroscience, began at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, where I completed my undergraduate psychology degree. During graduate school at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, I used animal models to explore the effects of adolescent nicotine exposure on addiction related behaviors in adulthood. This work led to a postdoctoral research position at Binghamton University in Binghamton, New York, where I studied the effects of adolescent alcohol exposure on cognitive flexibility using a rodent model of binge drinking.
My current research interests focus on co-morbid nicotine and alcohol exposure during adolescence. Utilizing animal models of learning and memory, I will examine the combined, long- term effects of alcohol and nicotine toxicity on the developing brain by exploring their effects on drug seeking behavior and neural morphology in adulthood. When I’m not spending time in my rat lab, you can find me on a relaxing beach or spending time with friends and family.
- 2008 - B.S. - Psychology - College of William and Mary
- 2011 - M.A. - Psychology - George Mason University
- 2014 - Ph.D. - Psychology - George Mason University
Areas of Expertise
- Behavioral Neuroscience
- Neurobiology of Addiction
- Animal Models of Learning & Memory
- Animal Models of Adolescent Drug Exposure
- Biological Psychology
- Drugs, Brain and Behavior
Chronic intermittent ethanol exposure leads to alterations in brain-derived neurotrophic factor within the frontal cortex and impaired behavioral flexibility in both adolescent and adult rats.
Chronic Drinking During Adolescence Predisposes the Adult Rat for Continued Heavy Drinking: Neurotrophin and Behavioral Adaptation after Long-Term, Continuous Ethanol Exposure
Brain Structure and Function
Adolescent nicotine-induced dendrite remodeling in the nucleus accumbens is rapid, persistent, and D1-dopamine receptor dependent
Neurons activated during fear memory consolidation and reconsolidation are mapped to a common and new topography in the lateral amygdala