About the lab…

The  Pickens lab is recruiting new graduate students for Fall 2017! Please look around and feel free to contact Dr. Pickens at pickens@ksu.edu if you are interested.


The Pickens lab is interested in the long-term effects of CNS depressants on learning, memory and decision-making long after the exposure to the drug has ended. Our current focus is on the effects of alcohol and the anesthetic/hallucinogen ketamine (aka: “Special K”).

We study the effects of these drugs using behavioral, pharmacological, and neuroanatomical methods (lesions and inactivations, functional neuroanatomy and chemogenetic techniques) to support three lines of research on this area.

1: What are the long-term effect to exposure to the anesthetic/hallucinogenic drug ketamine on learning and decision-making long after the ketamine is out of the system, and how do these effects compare to the effects of neurotoxic brain lesions? This project is primarily run by one of the graduate students- Hayley Fisher.

GoNoGo2    Comparison

2: What is the relationship between voluntary alcohol consumption during adolescence or adulthood on learning and decision-making long after the alcohol is out of the system… and if voluntary alcohol consumption is associated with altered learning, could this because of genetic influences or because alcohol causes neurotoxicity in the brain? This project is open for any potential graduate students who would like to take it on.


3: What is the neurobiological basis of increases in fear across the weeks following traumatic events (fear incubation) and how is this affected by potential medications to decrease fear or alcohol use (which could be a form of self-medication)? This project is primarily run by one of the graduate students- Alisa Pajser.

fear protocolTimecourse