• Title Lecturer, Core Curriculum and Biology
  • Education PhD, Boston University
  • Phone 617-358-4804
  • Area of Interest Neuroendocrinology, innate social behavior, neuropeptides, neural circuits, sex differences, undergraduate science education

Current Research

My research is devoted to understanding the neurobiology of social behavior. My focus is on elucidating the role of the neuropeptides, oxytocin and vasopressin in regulating neural pathways of innate social behavior in male and female mice. Specifically, I am interested in understanding how oxytocin and vasopressin modulate neuronal activity in discrete brain regions known to regulate social behaviors, including pheromonal communication, social memory, courtship and mating behaviors, and how this modulation differs between the sexes. Working with Dr. Ian Davison, I am currently using chronically implanted, open source mini endoscopes combined with calcium imaging in the accessory olfactory bulb to observe population-level encoding of different conspecifics during natural social interactions in freely behaving mice. This work is relevant to many neuropsychiatric disorders with core social behavioral alterations, including autism, schizophrenia, and depression.

Selected Publications

  • Tsitoura C, Malinowski S, Mohrhardt J, Degen R, DiBenedictis BT, Gao Y, Watznauer K, Gerhold K, Nagel M, Weber M, Rothermel M, Hanganu-Opatz IL, Ben-Shaul Y, Davison IG, Spehr M (2020) Synchronous infra-slow oscillations organize ensembles of accessory olfactory bulb projection neurons into distinct microcircuits. J Neurosci. 40 (21): 4203-4218.
  • DiBenedictis BT, Cheung HK, Nussbaum ER, Veenema AH (2020) Involvement of ventral pallidal vasopressin in the sex-specific regulation of opposite-sex preference in rats. Psychoneuroendocrinology 111: 104462.
  • Smith CJW, DiBenedictis BT, Veenema AH (2019) Comparing vasopressin and oxytocin fiber and receptor density patterns in the social behavior neural network: Implications for cross-system signaling. Front Neuroendocrinol 53: 100737 1-16.
  • DiBenedictis BT, Nussbaum ER, Cheung HK, Veenema AH (2017) Quantitative mapping reveals age and sex differences in vasopressin, but not oxytocin, immunoreactivity in the rat social behavior neural network. J Comp Neurol 525: 2549-2570.
  • Varian BJ, Poutahidis T, DiBenedictis BT, Levkovich T, Ibrahim Y, Didyk E, Shikhman L, Cheung HK, Ricciadri C, Kolandaivelu K, Veenema AH, Alm EJ, Erdman SE (2016) Microbial lysate upregulates host oxytocin. Brain, Behav & Immun 61: 36-49.
  • DiBenedictis BT, Olugbemi A, Baum MJ, Cherry JA (2015) DREADD-induced silencing of the medial olfactory tubercle disrupts the preference of female mice for opposite-sex chemosignals. eNeuro ENEURO.0078-15.
  • DiBenedictis BT, Olugbemi A, Baum MJ, Cherry JA (2014b) 6-Hydroxydopamine lesions of the anteromedial ventral striatum impair opposite-sex urinary odor preference in female mice. Behav Brain Res. 274: 243-247.
  • DiBenedictis BT, Helfand AI, Baum MJ, Cherry JA (2014a) A quantitative comparison of the efferent projections of the anterior and posterior subdivisions of the medial amygdala in female mice. Brain Res. 1543: 101-108.
  • DiBenedictis BT, Ingraham KL, Baum MJ, Cherry JA (2012) Disruption of urinary odor preference and lordosis behavior in female mice given lesions of the medial amygdala. Physiol Behav. 105: 554-559.
  • Dunlap KD, DiBenedictis BT, Banever SR (2010) Chirping response of weakly electric knife fish (Apteronotus leptorhynchus) to low-frequency electric signals and to heterospecific electric fish. J Exp Biol. 213: 2234-2342.

Courses Taught:

  • BI/NE 230 Behavioral Endocrinology
  • BI/NE/CH 218 Interdisciplinary Science Experience II
  • BI 325/NE 203 Principles of Neuroscience
  • CC 111 Origins
  • CC 212 Science & The Modern World

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