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Darlene Skinner

B.Sc.(Hons.) Memorial, Ph.D. Toronto


Office: SN1053
Phone: (709) 864-2027
Affiliations: Behavioural Neuroscience


Research Interests


Darlene Skinner



The main goal of my research is to relate brain function to behavior. One major focus of my research is spatial learning. Current studies in spatial learning are addressing the issue of what animals really learn about their spatial environment. Do they use proximal cues, distal cues, geometry, or path integration (or some combination) to locate a hidden goal. Another area of interest is conditional discrimination learning. The same stimulus can have a very different meaning depending on the context in which it is presented. I am interested in identifying the neuroanatomical substrates that might be important in these types of learning. Current studies are examining the role of the hippocampus and related cortical structures in both spatial and conditional learning.





Peckford, G., Dwyer, J.A., Snow, A.C., Thorpe, C.M., Martin, G.M. & Skinner, D.M. (in press). The effects of lesions to the postsubiculum or the anterior dorsal nucleus of the thalamus on spatial learning in rats. Behavioral Neuroscience.

Deibel, S.H. & Skinner, D.M. (2014). Male Long Evans rats’ retention of a place memory acquired during a single massed training session in a water plus maze is short lived. Learning & Motivation, 48, 14-21.

Cahill, S.P.A, Fifield, K.E., Thorpe, C.T., Martin, G.M. & Skinner, D.M. (2014). Mice use start point orientation to solve spatial problems in a water T-maze. Animal Cognition (DOI 10.1007/s10071-014-0789-1).

Deibel, S.H., Ingram, M.L., Lehr, A.B., Martin, H.C., Skinner, D.M., Martin, G.M., Hughes, I.M.W., & Thorpe, C.M. (2014). In a daily time-place learning task, time is only used as a discriminative stimulus if each daily session is associated with a distinct spatial location. Learning & Behavior, 42(3), pp. 246-255.

Skinner, D.M., Martin, G.M., Wrights, S.L., Tomlin, J., Odintsova, I.V., Thorpe, C.M., Harley, C.W., & Marrone, D.F. (2014). Hippocampal spatial mapping and the acquisition of competing responses. Hippocampus, 24, 396-402.

Dwyer, J.A., Ingram, M.L., Snow, A.C., Thorpe, C.T., Martin, G.M., & Skinner, D.M. (2013). The effects of bilaterial lesions to the dorsal tegmental nucleus on spatial learning in rats. Behavioral Neuroscience, 127, 867-877.

Peckford, G., McRae, S.M., Thorpe, C.M., Martin, G.M. & Skinner, D.M. (2013). Rats’ orientation at the start point is important for spatial learning in a water T- maze. Learning & Motivation, 44, 1-15.

Martin, G.M., Pirsada, A., Bridger, A., Tomlin, J., Thorpe, C.M. & Skinner, D.M. (2011). Manipulations of start and food locations affect navigation on a foraging task. Learning & Motivation, 42, 288-299.

Brown, A.R., Penney, A., Skinner, D.M., & Martin, G.M. (2011). Aversive, appetitive and flavour avoidance responses in the presence of contextual cues. Learning & Behavior, 39, 95-103.

Skinner, D.M., Horne, M.R., Murphy, K.E.A., & Martin, G.M. (2010). Rats’ orientation is more important than start point location for successful place learning. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal behavior Processes, 36, 110-116.

Whyte, J.T., Martin, G.M., & Skinner, D.M. (2009). As assessment of response, direction and place learning by rats in a water T-maze. Learning and Motivation, 40, 376-385.

Walsh, S.J., Harley, C.W., Corbett, D., Skinner, D.M., & Martin, G.M. (2008). CA1 ischemic injury does not affect the ability of Mongolian gerbils to solve response, direction, or place problems. Brain Research, 1187, 194-200.

Horne, M.R., Martin, G.M., Harley, C.W., & Skinner, D.M. (2007). Where am I? Distal cue use requires sensitivity to start location change in the rat. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes, 33, 92-99.

Walsh, S.J., Skinner, D.M., & Martin, G.M. (2007). Location serves as a conditional cue when harp seals (Pagophilus groenlandicus) solve object discrimination reversal problems. Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology, 61, 44-53.

Stringer, K.G., Martin, G.M., & Skinner, D.M. (2005). The effects of hippocampal lesions on response, direction and place learning in rats. Behavioral Neuroscience.

Martin, G.M., Evans, J.H., Harley, C.W., & Skinner, D.M. (2005). Lost in time: Rats are unable to return to a start location that varies. Connection Science.

Murphy, M. & Skinner, D.M. (2005). Contextual control of fluid consumption: The effects of context extinction. Learning and Motivation.

Skinner, D.M., Thornton, J.A., & Holland, P.C. (2003). The effects of feature type in operant serial feature-positive discriminations. Learning and Motivation, 34, 389-409.

Howse, D.J., Squires, A.S., Martin, G.M., & Skinner, D.M. (2003). Perirhinal cortex lesions impair context aversion learning. Learning & Memory, 10, 161-167.

Skinner, D.M., Etchegary, C.M., Ekert-Maret, E.C., Baker, C.J., Harley, C.W., Evans, J.H., & Martin, G.M. (2003). An analysis of response, direction, and place learning in an open field and T maze. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes, 29(1), 3-13.

Martin, G.M., Walker, K.M., & Skinner, D.M. (2003). A single unstable visual cue impairs learning in the water maze. Learning and Motivation, 34(1), 87-103.

Clarke, H.A., Skinner, D.M., & van der Kooy, D. (2001). Combined hippocampal and amygdala lesions block learning of a response independent form of occasion setting. Behavioral Neuroscience, 115, 341 357.

Harley, C.W., Martin, G.M., Skinner, D.M., & Squires, A. (2001). The moving fire hydrant experiment: Movement of objects to a new location reelicits marking in rats. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, 75, 303 309.

Skinner, D.M., Martin, G.M., Scanlon, C.J., Thorpe, C.M., Barry, J., Evans, J.H., & Harley, C.W. (2001). A two platform task reveals a deficit in the ability of rats to return to the start location in the water maze. Behavioral Neuroscience, 115, 220 228.

Skinner, D.M. (2000). Modulation of taste aversions by a pentobarbital drug state: An assessment of its transfer properties. Learning & Motivation, 31, 381 401.

Skinner, D.M., Clarke, H.A., & van der Kooy, D. (2000). Amygdala lesions impair context aversions but not the ability of contexts to serve as occasion setters. Psychobiology, 28, 67 80.

Skinner, D.M. & van der Kooy, D. (1997). Acquisition and retention of negative patterning in hippocampal lesioned rats. Psychobiology, 25, 10-17.