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Jeff Dunning

Post-doc, Pharmacology



B.S. – Neuroscience, George Mason University, 2007-2011

Ph.D. – Neuroscience, University of Wyoming, 2012-2017

Research Description

Jeff’s general scientific interests are to better understand how the nervous system obtains and assigns value to environmental cues and uses that information to guide behavior.

His current research is aimed at elucidating the role of arrestin proteins in normal and abnormal dopaminergic signaling, using mouse models of Parkinson’s disease and addiction to psychostimulant drugs.  Arrestins are key modulators of dopamine receptors and the subsequent intracellular signaling transduction, affording us a unique target to manipulate dopaminergic signaling in the brain to gain new insight regarding how these circuits influence behavior.

To this end, he is using in vivo modulation of arrestins in striatal brain regions via viral gene transfer in wild type and genetically modified mice.  The idea is that if we can understand the relation between arrestins and dopaminergic signaling abnormalities, we may then begin to develop therapeutic strategies to reduce or reverse these maladaptive behaviors.


PhRMA Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship in Pharmacology & Toxicology, 2019 – 2020




Jeffery L Dunning*, Elie J*, Hoffmann S*, Coleman M, Fortune ES, Prather JF. (in Press) From Perception to Action: The Role of Auditory Input in Shaping Vocal Communication and Social Behaviors. Brain, Behavior and Evolution.

Jeffery L Dunning, Sarah E Maze, Ethan J Atwood, Jonathan F Prather: Caudal mesopallial neurons in female songbirds bridge sensory and motor brain regions. Journal of Comparative Neurology 526(10):1703-1711. doi: 10.1002/cne.24440 (2018)

Dunning, JL., Pant, S., Bass, A., Coburn, Z., Prather, JF. Mate Choice in Adult Female Bengalese Finches: Females Express Consistent Preferences for Individual Males and Prefer Female-Directed Song Performances. PLoS ONE 9(2):e89438. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0089438 (2014).

Heinig, A., Pant, S., Dunning, JL., Bass, A., Coburn, Z., Prather, JF. Male mate preferences in mutual mate choice: Finches modulate their songs across and within male–female interactions. Animal Behavior. 2014.

Murphy, K., Wilson, DA., Burton, M., Slaugh, S., Dunning, JL., Prather, JF. Effectiveness of the GnRH Agonist Deslorelin as a Tool to Decrease Levels of Circulating Testosterone in Zebra Finches. Journal of Comparative Endocrinology 222:150-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ygcen.2015.09.014 (2015)


In Preparation

Jeffery L Dunning, Sarah E Maze, Ethan J Atwood, Jonathan F Prather: Caudal mesopallial neurons in female songbirds bridge sensory and motor brain regions. Journal of Comparative Neurology [In Review].

Jeffery L Dunning, Santosh Pant, Karagh Murphy, Jonathan F Prather: Females prefer vocal athletes: Preference for song features reflecting neuromuscular aptitude.