Michael E. Ragozzino, Ph.D.



PhD., University of Virginia
B.A., University of Cincinnati


Statement of Research Interests:
My research program involves taking a neural systems approach to understanding the neurobiology of learning and memory. My interest focuses on investigating the principles and neural mechanisms that govern the ability to learn new rules and inhibit old rules under changing environmental conditions. The ability to adopt new strategies and inhibit old strategies involves a powerful form of plasticity for adapting to a changing environment and reflects intricate learning,memory and attentional systems. I have three main research programs that focus on understanding the neurobiology of learning and memory.

Neural Basis of Behavioral Flexibility in Frontal Cortex-Basal Ganglia Circuitry.
One main focus of current experiments is investigating the role of the prefrontal cortex and interconnected brain regions, i.e. striatum and thalamus, in shifting strategies or learning sets. These experiments employ behavioral testing in conjunction with pharmacology and neurochemical techniques, i.e. glutamate biosensors, in understanding the dynamic neurochemical changes that occur during different forms of learning. Most recently, experiments also include functional brain imaging techniques in human subjects to understand the neural systems that support different forms of behavioral flexibility.
A defining feature of autism is restricted interests and repetitive behaviors that can be debilitating to daily living and stressful to family members. Current experiments are employing the BTBR and SHANK3 mouse models of autism to understand the neural circuitry and neurochemistry that underlies repetitive behaviors and behavioral inflexibility in autism. In addition, several studies focus on testing novel treatments that target the serotonergic or cholinergic systems to alleviate behavioral flexibility deficits. In parallel, we conduct neuropsychological studies in autistic subjects to better understand the cognitive processes that lead to cognitive inflexibility.

Selected Publications:

Amodeo DA, Grospe G, Zang H, Dwivedi Y, Ragozzino ME. (2016). Cognitive flexibility impairment and reduced frontal cortex BDNF expression in the ouabain model of mania. Neuroscience, in press.


Chartoff EH, Ebner SR, Sparrow A, Potter D, Baker PM, Ragozzino ME, Roitman MF. (2016) Relative Timing Between Kappa Opioid Receptor Activation and Cocaine Determines the Impact on Reward and Dopamine Release. Neuropsychopharmacology. 41:989-1002. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26239494

Miller HL, Ragozzino ME, Cook EH, Sweeney JA, Mosconi MW. (2015). Cognitive setshifting deficits and their relationship to repetitive behaviors in autism spectrum disorder. J Autism Dev Disord. 45:805-815. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25234483

Baker PM, Ragozzino ME. (2014). Contralateral disconnection of the rat prelimbic cortex and dorsomedial striatum impairs cue-guided behavioral switching. Learn Mem. 21:368-379.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25028395

Amodeo DA, Jones JH, Sweeney JA, Ragozzino ME. (2014). Risperidone and the 5-HT2A receptor antagonist M100907 improve probabilistic reversal learning in BTBR T +tf/J mice. Autism Res. 7:555-567.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24894823

D'Cruz AM, Ragozzino ME, Mosconi MW, Shrestha S, Cook EH, Sweeney JA. (2013) Reduced behavioral flexibility in autism spectrum disorders. Neuropsychology 27:152-160. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23527643

Ragozzino ME, Artis S, Singh A, Twose TM, Beck JE, Messer WS Jr. (2012). The selective M1 muscarinic cholinergic agonist CDD-0102A enhances working memory and cognitive flexibility. J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 340:588-594. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22135384

Amodeo DA, Jones JH, Sweeney JA, Ragozzino ME. (2012). Differences in BTBR T+ tf/J and C57BL/6J mice on probabilistic reversal learning and stereotyped behaviors. Behav Brain Res. 227:64-72. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22056750

D'Cruz AM, Ragozzino ME, Mosconi MW, Pavuluri MN, Sweeney JA. (2011). Human reversal learning under conditions of certain versus uncertain outcomes. Neuroimage 56:315-322.

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Contact Information

Office: 1066B BSB, MC 285
Fax: 312-996-2836
Email: mrago@uic.edu