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Chana Akins


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 a Professor.


We currently have two primary areas of focus: 1) development of a novel alcohol model that will be used to examine how visual cues in the environment that get associated with alcohol, may later cause alcohol seeking and/or relapse, and 2) exploring behavioral and cognitive effects of alcohol using a Crowdsource population of drinkers.  The first research area involves using a visual species, Japanese quail, to study the behavioral and neurobiological mechanisms of alcohol administration including areas studying the role of steroid hormones, stress hormones, and learning mechanisms.  The second area of study is relatively novel for us but involves surveying a sample of individuals through mTurk or Prolific and providing behavioral tasks that are linked to alcohol use.


For Interested Students: 

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.  In collaboration with other labs and/or as part of an allied area requirement, students may get the opportunity to gain more technical skills such as conducting hormone assays and other neurophysiological techniques.


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 rodents. 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.

Selected Publications:

Recent Publications

* graduate students **undergraduate students

*Geary, E.H. & Akins, C.K. (2007).  Cocaine sensitization in male quail: temporal, conditioning, and dose-dependent characteristics.  Physiology & Behavior, 90(5), 818-24.

Akins, C.K. & *Geary, E.H. (2008).  Cocaine-induced behavioral sensitization and conditioning in male Japanese quail.  Pharmacology, Biochemistry, & Behavior, 88, 432-37.

*Bolin, B.L. & Akins, C.K. (2009).  Chronic preexposure to methamphetamine decreases sexual motivation but not sexual performance in male Japanese quail.  Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology, 17, 10-20.

**Rosine, B.J., *Bolin, B.L. & Akins, C.K. (2009).  Chronic methylphenidate cross-sensitizes methamphetamine in male Japanese quail.  Behavioural Pharmacology, 20(4), 352-5.

*Bolin, B.L. & Akins, C.K. (2012).  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),177-83.38) 

*Bolin, B.L.,**Cornett, H.L.,**Barnes, A.F., *Gill, K.E., and Akins, C.K. (2012). Nicotine induces a conditioned place preference in male Japanese quail (Coturnix japonica). Physiology & Behavior, 107, 364-367.

*Bolin, B.L., **Singleton, D.L., & Akins, C.K. (2014).  Pavlovian discriminative stimulus effects of methamphetamine in male Japanese quail (Coturnix japonica).  Journal of Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 102(1), 126-38.

*Gill, K.E., *Rice, B.A., & Akins, C.K. (2015).  Cocaine induces state-dependent learning of sexual conditioning in male Japanese quail.  Physiology and Behavior, 138, 150-153.

*Gill, K.E., Madison, F.N., & Akins C.K. (2015). Cocaine-induced sensitization correlates with testosterone in male Japanese quail but not with estradiol in female Japanese quail.  Hormones and Behavior, 67, 21-27.

*Gill, K.E., *Reynolds, A.R., Prendergast, M.A., & Akins, C.K. (2016).  Female Japanese quail with high levels of estradiol demonstrate cocaine-induced conditioned place preference.  Experimental & Clinical Psychopharmacology, 24(3), 185-92.

*Rice, B.A., *Tariq, R., Akins, C.K. (2017).  Intramuscular route of administration increases potency in eliciting cocaine-induced behavioral sensitization.  Current Psychopharmacology, 6(1), 36-42.

Akins, C.K., *Gill, K.E., *Reinhardt, E., and *Bolin, B.L. (2017).  Cocaine increases resistance to extinction of sexual conditioning in male Japanese quail.  Learning & Behavior, 45(3), 313-322.

Akins, C.K., *Eaton, S.E., & Bolin, B.L. (2017). Conditioned place preference. In Vonk, J. & Shakelford, T.K. (Eds), Encyclopedia of Animal Cognition and Behavior. New York, NY: Springer.

*Rice, B.A., *Eaton, S.E., Prendergast, M.A., & Akins, C.K. (2018).  Effects of a stress hormone antagonist in reducing drug addiction behaviors.  Experimental & Clinical Psychopharmacology, 26(4), 329-334.

*Rice, B.A., Saunders, M.A., *Jagielo-Miller, J.E., Prendergast, M.A., & Akins, C.K. (2019).  Repeated subcutaneous administration of PT150 has dose-dependent effects on sign tracking in male Japanese quail.  Experimental & Clinical Psychopharmacology, 27(6), 515-521.

*Eaton, S.E., Pauly, J.R., Hopkins, D.M., Akins, C.K. (In Press). Autoradiographic localization of [3H]-Nisoxetine binding sites in the CNS of male and female Japanese quail. Journal of Basic and Applied Zoology.

*Eaton, S.E., **Dzvala, S., **Robinson, L.E., *Radevski, M.E. & Akins, C.K. (Under review).  Ethanol induces a dose-dependent place preference and conditioned place aversion in Japanese quail.  Experimental & Clinical Psychopharmacology.


Panicker, S., Akins, C.K., & Rice, B.A. (In Press).  The ethics and regulations of research with non-human animals.  In APA Handbook of Research Methods in Psychology, Second Edition.  Washington DC;  American Psychological Association