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Linda Spear


Distinguished Professor of Psychology


Ph.D., University of Florida
Area: Behavioral Neuroscience
Phone: 607-777-2825
Office: Science II, Room 255

Curriculum vitae 

Laboratory website


Professional Activities:

Spear currently is a member of the National Advisory Council for the National Institute for Alcohol and Alcohol Abuse (NIAAA) as well as a member of their External Advisory Board (EAB). She has served as president of a number of societies, including the International Behavioral Neuroscience Society, the International Society for Developmental Psychobiology, and the Neurobehavioral Teratology Society. Her prior NIH service includes participation on grant review committees for the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), NIAAA and the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), as well as serving on the External Advisory Board for NIDA and as a member of the NIAAA Underage Drinking Steering Committee. Spear was the 2005 recipient of the Keller Award, an award given annually by NIAAA to “an outstanding alcohol researcher who has made significant and long-term contributions” to the study of alcohol abuse and alcoholism. 

Research Interests:

The behavioral neuroscience and psychopharmacology of development, with a particular emphasis on neurobehavioral function during adolescence. 

Research Description:

In our basic research laboratory, we use a simple animal model of adolescence in the rat to examine neurobehavioral function during adolescence, with a particular emphasis on discerning factors contributing to the frequent onset of alcohol and drug use during adolescence and the development of problematic patterns of use among some adolescents.  In our work, we explore interrelationships among adolescent-specific patterns of sensitivities to different ethanol effects, age-related vulnerabilities to stressors, and hormone changes associated with puberty, as well as mechanisms underlying these effects and their contribution to ethanol intake, risk taking and other problem behaviors of adolescence. Other work in the laboratory focuses on consequences of alcohol exposure and/or stressors during adolescence on later neurobehavioral function, with a particular focus on social anxiety and later intake of alcohol and other drugs.  Dr. Spear also collaborates with other researchers (the Collaborative Ethanol Group [CEG]) in the conduct of human field studies designed to test applicability of basic research findings regarding adolescent alcohol sensitivities to college-age drinkers.

Philosophy of Graduate Training:

I believe that far more graduate training occurs in the laboratory, while reading and analyzing the research of others, and through formal and informal interactions with faculty and graduate student collaborators than occurs in the classroom. I strive to provide each student with individually-tailored research training within a laboratory environment conducive to such training and well as for producing a strong record of research accomplishments, and for establishing a life-long pattern of learning. To be a life-long learner is a privilege. If you don’t love the work you do, you are just working to ransom back your life.

Selected Publications:

(out of approx. > 275)

Doremus-Fitzwater, T. L., Varlinskaya, E. I., & Spear, L. P. (2010). Motivational systems in adolescence: possible implications for age differences in substance abuse and other risk-taking behaviors. Brain and Cognition, 72, 114-123. PDF

Varlinskaya, E. I., Doremus-Fitzwater, T. L., & Spear, L. P. (2010). Repeated restraint stress alters sensitivity to the social consequences of ethanol in adolescent and adult rats. Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior, 96, 228-235. PDF

Anderson, R. I., Varlinskaya, E. I., & Spear, L. P. (2010). Ethanol-induced conditioned taste aversion in male Sprague-Dawley rats: impact of age and stress. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 34, 2106-2115. PDF

Doremus-Fitzwater, T. L., & Spear, L. P. (2011). Amphetamine-induced incentive sensitization of sign-tracking behavior in adolescent and adult female rats. Behavioral Neuroscience, 125(4), 661-667. PDF

Spear, L. P. (2011). Adolescent neurobehavioral characteristics, alcohol sensitivities and intake: Setting the stage for alcohol use disorder? Child Development Perspectives, 5(4), 231-238. PDF

Vetter-O'Hagen, C. S., & Spear, L. P. (2012). The effects of gonadectomy on sex- and age-typical responses to novelty and ethanol-induced social inhibition in adult male and female Sprague-Dawley rats. Behavioural Brain Research, 227, 224-232. PDF

Varlinskaya, E. I., Vogt, B., & Spear, L. P. (2012). Social context induces two unique patterns of c-Fos expression in adolescent and adult rats. Developmental Psychobiology. PDF

Last Updated: 9/28/17