I received my Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology in 1994 from the University of Texas, under the supervision of Michael Domjan. My dissertation research was on the conditioned anticipatory responses of male Japanese quail during sexual behavior. From 1994-1996, I continued this line of research as a postdoctoral fellow here at the University of Kentucky. I was hired as faculty after completion of my postdoctoral position, and am currently an Associate Professor.
The overall goal of my research has been to contribute to the understanding of learning mechanisms involved in motivated behaviors, in particular sexual behavior and drug-taking behavior. Both of these behaviors are heavily influenced by specific stimuli in the environment. Therefore, the main focus of my behavioral research has been on how various cues come to control and modify these highly motivated behaviors. In addition, because in humans, there appears to be some relationship between drug taking behavior and risky sexual behavior, we’re interested in the causal relationship between these two motivated behaviors.
Students in my laboratory have an opportunity to acquire an intensive and enriched experience in basic behavioral research in a closely-mentored setting. While in my laboratory, students can expect to gain a strong background in the fundamentals of learning and psychopharmacology, a solid foundation of experimental design, and the establishment of a solid publication record. Emphasis on these basic skills is aimed to help students be more competitive on the job market upon graduation and is also specifically geared toward students who want to engage in more molecular and neuroscience techniques at the post-doctoral level.
Research Subjects--Japanese Quail (Coturnix japonica)
Japanese quail are ideally suited for our experiments in many ways. The birds readily engage in sexual behavior in the laboratory; their courtship and sexual responses are distinctive and easily identifiable; they can be maintained in reproductive readiness all year with proper photostimulation; and much is already known about the neurohormonal mechanisms of sexual behavior in this species. Japanese quail also have a well-developed visual system with color vision, unlike the rat. Because visual cues in the environment may often become associated with drug taking behavior and later lead to craving and relapse in humans, the bird model may provide us with additional information about the mechanisms of drug craving and relapse.
For more information on my research and laboratory, click here.
Many of our projects have encouraged and fostered interdisciplinary interactions and collaborative efforts among investigators in the Biology, Ecology, and Comparative Neurobiology (BEACON) group, the Center for Ecology, Evolution, Behavior (CEEB), and the Integrative Neuroscience Program (INP).
(*indicates graduate or undergraduate student)
- Akins, C. K., *Klein, E. D., Zentall, T. R. (2002). Imitative learning in Japanese quail using a bi-directional control procedure. 30, 275-281.
- Akins, C.K., *Levens, N,. *Bakondy, H. (2002). The role of static features of males in the mate choice behavior of female Japanese quail. 58, 97-103.
- *Levens, N., Akins, C. K. (2001). Cocaine induces place preference and locomotor activity in male domesticated quail (Coturnix japonica). 68, 71-80.
- Akins, C. K. (2000). Constraints on the sexually conditioned response in male Japanese quail: Effects of the CS and CS-US interval. 31, 211-235.
Interactive Online Articles
- Akins, C. K. Burns, M. Visual control of sexual behavior. In R. Cook (Ed.), Avian Visual Cognition. http://www.pigeon.psy.tufts.edu/avc/zentall/default.htm
- "Nicotine induces a conditioned place preference in male Japanese quail (Coturnix japonica)." Physiology & behavior 107, 3 (2012): 364-7. Details. Full text
- "Chronic pre-exposure to methamphetamine following 31 days of withdrawal impairs sexual performance but not sexual conditioning in male Japanese quail." Behavioural processes 91, 2 (2012): 177-83. Details. Full text
- "Chronic preexposure to methylphenidate cross-sensitizes methamphetamine in male Japanese quail." Behavioural pharmacology 20, 4 (2009): 352-5. Details. Full text
- "Methamphetamine impairs sexual motivation but not sexual performance in male Japanese quail." Experimental and clinical psychopharmacology 17, 1 (2009): 10-20. Details. Full text
- "Cocaine-induced behavioral sensitization and conditioning in male Japanese quail." Pharmacology, biochemistry, and behavior 88, 4 (2008): 432-7. Details. Full text
- "Cocaine sensitization in male quail: temporal, conditioning, and dose-dependent characteristics." Physiology & behavior 90, 5 (2007): 818-24. Details. Full text
- "Ionotropic glutamate receptors in the ventral tegmental area regulate cocaine-seeking behavior in rats." Neuropsychopharmacology : official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology 30, 11 (2005): 2073-81. Details. Full text
- "Chronic cocaine pretreatment facilitates Pavlovian sexual conditioning in male Japanese quail." Pharmacology, biochemistry, and behavior 79, 3 (2004): 451-7. Details. Full text
- "Dose-dependent cocaine place conditioning and D1 dopamine antagonist effects in male Japanese quail." Physiology & behavior 82, 2-3 (2004): 309-15. Details. Full text
- "The role of static features of males in the mate choice behavior of female Japanese quail (Coturnix japonica)." Behavioural processes 58, 1-2 (2002): 97-103. Details. Full text
- "Imitative learning in Japanese quail (Coturnix japonica) using the bidirectional control procedure." Animal learning & behavior 30, 3 (2002): 275-81. Details.
- "Cocaine induces conditioned place preference and increases locomotor activity in male Japanese quail." Pharmacology, biochemistry, and behavior 68, 1 (2001): 71-80. Details. Full text
- "Conditioned place preference in 12-day-old Japanese quail." Developmental psychobiology 31, 4 (1997): 245-54. Details. Full text
- "Imitative learning in male Japanese quail (Coturnix japonica) using the two-action method." Journal of comparative psychology (Washington, D.C. : 1983) 110, 3 (1996): 316-20. Details. Full text
- "The topography of sexually conditioned behaviour: effects of a trace interval." The Quarterly journal of experimental psychology. B, Comparative and physiological psychology 49, 4 (1996): 346-56. Details.
- "Stimulus control of copulatory behavior in sexually naive male Japanese quail (Coturnix japonica): effects of test context and stimulus movement." Journal of comparative psychology (Washington, D.C. : 1983) 108, 3 (1994): 252-61. Details. Full text
- "Topography of sexually conditioned behavior in male Japanese quail (Coturnix japonica) depends on the CS-US interval." Journal of experimental psychology. Animal behavior processes 20, 2 (1994): 199-209. Details. Full text
- "Stimulus control of copulatory behavior in male Japanese quail." Poultry science 72, 4 (1993): 722-7. Details. Full text