Stephen Vincent Mahler

Picture of Stephen Vincent Mahler
Assistant Professor, Neurobiology and Behavior
School of Biological Sciences
Ph.D., The University of Michigan, 2009, Biopsychology
Phone: (949) 824-6128
University of California, Irvine
1203 McGaugh Hall
Mail Code: 4550
Irvine, CA 92697
Research Interests
addiction, motivation, learning, conditioning, adolescence, development, early-life stress, reward, cannabinoids, dopamine, ventral pallidum
Research Abstract
Brain circuits of “reward” are evolutionarily ancient, and function in a qualitatively similar way in humans and model organisms such as rodents. Such homology should not be surprising considering the strong adaptive pressure on organisms to efficiently exploit environmental opportunities when they are available.

In order to attain a natural reward like food, water, or sex, animals must know what and where rewards are, and how to get them. This is accomplished in part via the brain’s “reward circuitry,” which allows animals to recognize rewards when they get them, to learn about how to get them, and to generate appropriate motivated behavior in pursuit of them when they are available.

We investigate the neural circuits underlying these psychological processes, including learning, motivation, and pleasure. We employ anatomical, pharmacological, and virus-based strategies to examine and control neuronal populations and circuits in rodents, with the aim of understanding how these circuits control behavior. We also examine how and why developmental disruptions, such as poor parental care, and adolescent use of cannabis, causes permanent changes in reward and memory circuits, and the behaviors they control.
R00 DA035251
P50 DA044118
Hellman Fellowship (2018)
Other Experience
Postdoctoral Fellow
The Medical University of South Carolina 2009—2015
Graduate Programs
Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program
Research Centers
Irvine Center for Addiction Neuroscience
Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory
ICAL: Impact of Cannabinoids Across the Lifespan
Last updated