Carolyn Harley

B.Sc. San Francisco State, M.Sc., Ph.D. Oregon

Professor Emeritus

Affiliations: Behavioural Neuroscience

Research Interests

Carolyn Harley

For humans learning is the key to our success as a species. But we do not understand how the brain produces learning. Are there optimal ways to learn? Can learning impairments be helped

Illuminating the biology of mammalian learning is the focus of the Harley laboratory. We discovered the neurochemical, norepinephrine, initiates brain changes that can support learning.

We are investigating how norepinephrine changes brain connections and how norepinephrine affects learning. We use electrophysiology to monitor neural activity, histochemistry to monitor brain metabolism and molecular biology and immunocytochemistry to monitor cellular cascades and genetic modulation.

We use behavior to measure real learning in paradigms from rat pup olfactory learning to human perceptual learning. We collaborate with learning and animal behavior specialists here in Psychology and with other Neuroscience specialists in our Medical school. We are also engaged in collaborations with laboratories in Japan, Canada, the USA, the UK and France. Students are welcome to share in any of these undertakings.


Yuan, Q., Harley, C.W., McLean, J.H. and T. Knopfel (2002) Optical imaging of odor preference memory in the rat olfactory bulb. Journal of Neurophysiology 87:3156-3159.

Harley, C.W., Farrell, R.C. and B. Rusak (2001) Daily variation in the distribution of glycogen phosphorylase in the suprachiasmatic nucleus of Syrian hamsters. Journal of Comparative Neurology 435:249-258.

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

Harley, C.W., Newsham, K., Blanchard, D.C. and R.J. Blanchard (2001) Glycogen phosphorylase in the amygdala and bed nucleus of the stria terminalis. Journal of Chemical Neuroanatomy 21:139-148.

Huxter, J.R., Thorpe, C.M., Martin, G.M. and C.W. Harley (2001) Spatial problem solving and hippocampal place cell firing in rats: Control by an internal sense of direction carried across environments. Behavioural Brain Research 123:37-48.

Munro, C.A.M., Walling, S.G., Evans, J.H. and C.W. Harley (2001) ß-adrenergic blockade in the dentate gyrus in vivo prevents high frequency-induced long-term potentiation of EPSP slope, but not long-term potentiation of population spike amplitude. Hippocampus 11:322-328.

Rumsey, J.D., Darby-King, A., Harley, C.W. and J.H. McLean (2001) Infusion of the metabotropic receptor agonist, DCG-IV, into the main olfactory bulb induces olfactory preference learning in rat pups. Brain Research Developmental Brain Research 128: 177-179.

Skinner, D.M., Martin G.M. Scanlon, K.-J., Thorpe, C.M., Barry, J., Evans, J.H. and C.W. Harley (2001) A two platform task reveals an inability of rats to return to the start arm in the water maze. Behavioral Neuroscience 115: 220-228.

Carre, G.P. and C.W. Harley (2000) Glutamatergic activation of medial septum complex: Enhancement of the dentate gyrus population spike and EEG and unit changes. Brain Research 861: 16-26.

Harley, C.W., Malsbury, C.W., Squires, A. and R.A.M. Brown (2000) Testosterone decreases CA1 plasticity in vivo in gonadectomized male rats. Hippocampus 10: 693-697.

Hynes, C.A. Martin, G.M., Harley, C.W., Huxter, J.R. and J.H. Evans (2000) Multiple points of entry into a circular enclosure prevent place learning despite normal vestibular orientation and cue arrays: Evidence for map resetting. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes 26: 64-73.

Yuan, Q., Harley, C.W., Bruce, J.C., Darby-King, A. and J.H. McLean (2000) Isoproterenol increases CREB phosphorylation and olfactory nerve evoked potentials in normal and 5-HT depleted olfactory bulbs in rat pups only at doses that produce odor preference learning. Learning and Memory 7: 413-421.

Abbott, M.L., Walsh, C.J., Storey, A.E., Stenhouse, I.J. and C.W. Harley (1999) Hippocampal volume is related to complexity of nest-site habitat in Leach’s storm-petrel, a nocturnal Procellariform seabird. Brain, Behavior and Evolution 53:271-276.

Harley, C.W. and G.M. Martin (1999) Open field motor patterns and object marking, but not object sniffing, are altered by ibotenate lesions of the hippocampus. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory 72: 202-214.

McLean J.H., Harley C.W., Darby-King A . and Q. Yuan (1999) pCREB in the neonate rat olfactory bulb is selectively and transiently increased by odor preference-conditioned training. Learning and Memory 6: 608-618.

Chaulk, P.C. and C.W. Harley (1998) Intracerebroventricular norepinephrine potentiation of the perforant path-evoked potential in dentate gyrus of anesthetized and awake rats: A role for both α- and ß-adrenoceptor activation. Brain Research 787: 59-70.

Price, T.L., Darby-King, A., Harley, C.W. and J.H. McLean (1998) Serotonin plays a permissive role in conditioned olfactory learning induced by norepinephrine in the neonate rat. Behavioral Neuroscience 112:1430-1437.