Dr. Gretchen Hanson Gotthard

Associate Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience
New Science 325 / 484-664-3422
gretchengotthard@muhlenberg.edu  / Website

B.S., University of North Dakota
Ph.D., Kent State University

Reserach Interests: behavioral neuroscience / learning and memory / clinical neuroscience 

Research Program

My research program is currently focused on addressing the question: “How are pleasant and unpleasant memories formed and how can they be disrupted, even when they are highly emotional and well-consolidated?” My lab addresses this broad question by examining both appetitive and aversive forms of learning and memory, and does so with experiments involving both rat and human populations. Much of our work stems from reconsolidation theory - i.e., the notion that old, presumably safe, memories can be made vulnerable to the effects of an amnesic agent simply through reactivation. Researchers in our rat lab use appetitively-motivated tasks that require rats to dig for sweet cereal rewards (i.e., odor discrimination and sand maze). These tasks allow us to create instrumentally conditioned memories that can be manipulated via pharmacological agents (e.g., protein synthesis inhibitors and beta-adrenergic receptor antagonists) to examine (re)consolidation and retrieval of memory. Researchers in our human memory lab employ virtual reality as a means to create episodic-like memory and monitor physiological responses to those complex memories. We examine a variety of visuospatial methods for interrupting (re)consolidation (e.g., playing the computer game Tetris, completing word search tasks, building structures out of giant blocks, etc). The ultimate goal of our lab is to apply our work to the treatment of memory-based forms of human psychopathology (e.g., drug addiction, PTSD, phobias, and depression).


  • Brain & Behavior (NSC 310)
  • Memory & Amnesia (PSY 410) 
  • Neuroscience of Anxiety (NSC 3XX)
  • Advanced Seminar in Neuroscience (NSC 401)