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  • Ryan Darling, PhD


    Assistant Professor, Neurobiology and Anatomical Sciences
    Adjunct Faculty, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, Millsaps College

    Office: R709
    Phone: (601) 984-1642
    E-mail: rdarling@umc.edu


    • BA, Miami University, Oxford, OH, 2000, Psychology
    • MA, Miami University, Oxford, OH, 2005, Psychology, "Hippocampal theta-triggered conditioning: Enhanced responses in hippocampus and prefrontal cortex." Advisor: Stephen D. Berry, PhD 
    • PhD, Miami University, Oxford, OH, 2008, Psychology, "Single cell analysis of hippocampal neural ensembles during theta-triggered eyeblick classical conditioning in the rabbit." Advisor: Stephen D. Berry, PhD
    • Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Department of Anatomy, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, MS, 2008-10. Mentor: Rick C.S. Lin, PhD

    Teaching responsibilities

    • Assistant course director, Medical Neurobiology
    • Lecturer and laboratory faculty, Medical Gross Anatomy

    Research interests

    • Flipped classroom approaches to medical education
    • Innovative and evidence-based approaches to teaching neuroscience
    • Using eye tracking to assess feature extraction and expertise

    Research program

    I was trained as a behavioral neuroscientist at Miami University under Dr. Stephen Berry, where I researched the electrophysiological correlates of rabbit eyeblink classical conditioning.  Specifically, I built moveable microdrives with multiple tetrode recording electrodes to analyze the response properties of neurons in the hippocampus and medial prefrontal cortex while rabbits learned to associate a neutral tone stimulus with an airpuff to the eye.  In addition, I used a brain-computer interface to trigger each trial in the explicit presence of a well-studied hippocampal local field potential termed theta (3-7Hz), which accelerated behavioral learning and the learning-related neural responses.    

    As a Postdoctoral Fellow working in the laboratory of Dr. Rick Lin at the UMMC, I researched the long-term neurobehavioral effects of perinatal antidepressant exposure in a rodent model of autism spectrum disorder. Specific areas of research focused on incorporating electrophysiological and immunohistochemical techniques to understand how monoaminergic neural systems (including serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine) and their forebrain efferents are disrupted by exposure to antidepressants during critical periods of neurodevelopment.

    I am now an Educator Scholar and concentrate my efforts on the scholarly teaching of anatomy to undergraduate medical students and applying my background of learning and memory to pedagogical research.  As a result of my career transition, I am interested in establishing a laboratory that utilizes eye tracking and electroencephalography to better understand implicit mechanisms of feature extraction and developing expertise.

    Selected publications

    Peer-reviewed papers

    • Zhou X, Lu JYF, Darling RD, Simpson KL, Zhu X, Wang F, Yu L, Sun X, Merzenich M, Lin RCS (2015). Behavioral training reverses global cortical network dysfunction induced by perinatal antidepressant exposure. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112(7):2233-2238.
    • Cicchese JJ, Darling RD, Berry SD (2015). Pretrial hippocampal theta-state differentiates single-unit response profiles during rabbit trace eyeblink conditioning. Learning and Memory, 22:318-322.
    • Zhang J, Dennis KA, Darling RD, Alzghoul L, Paul IA, Simpson KL & Lin RCS (2013). Neonatal citalopram exposure decreases serotonergic fiber density in the olfactory bulb of male but not female adult rats. Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience 7(67):1-8.
    • Bortolato M, Alzghoul L, Zhang J, Darling RD, Simpson KL, Bini V, Chen K, Wellman CL, Lin RCS & Shih JC (2013). Monoamine oxidase A and A/B knockout mice display autistic-like features. International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, 16:869-888. 
    • Alzghoul L, Bortolato M, Delis F, Thanos PK, Darling RD, Godar SC, Zhang J, Grant S, Wang GJ, Simpson KL, Chen K, Volkow ND, Lin RCS & Shih JC (2012). Altered cerebellar organization and function in monoamine oxidase A hypomorphic mice. Neuropharmacology 63:1208-1217.
    • Darling RD, Alzghoul L, Zhang J, Khatri  N, Paul IA, Simpson KL & Lin RCS (2011). Perinatal citalopram exposure selectively increases locus coeruleus circuit function in male rats.  Journal of Neuroscience 31(46):16709-16715.
    • Zhang J, Darling RD, Paul IA, Simpson KL, Chen K, Shih JC & Lin RCS (2011) Altered expression of tyrosine hydroxylase in the locus coeruleus noradrenergic system in citalopram exposed rats and monoamine oxidase A knockout mice.  Anatomical Record 294(10):1685-1697. 
    • Darling RD, Takatsuki K, Griffin AL & Berry SD (2011) Eyeblink conditioning contingent on hippocampal theta enhances hippocampal and medial prefrontal responses.  Journal of Neurophysiology 105:2213-2224.
    • Griffin AL, Asaka Y, Darling RD & Berry SD (2004) Theta-contingent trial presentation accelerates learning rate and enhances hippocampal plasticity during trace eyeblink conditioning. Behavioral Neuroscience 118(2):403-411.

    Recent abstracts

    • Darling RD, Notebaert AJ, Lu Y, Conway ML, Maklad A, Sinning AR (2015). Assessing organizational changes to a first year medical gross anatomy dissection course. Poster presented at Experimental Biology, Boston, MA.
    • Williams SR, Notebaert AJ, Darling RD, Sinning AR (2015). Analysis of image and text-based medical gross anatomy exam questions administered using Examsoft.  Poster presented at Experimental Biology, Boston, MA.
    • Darling RD, Lu Y, Conway ML, Maklad A, Sinning AR (2014). Assessing the emphasis of radiology in a first-year medical gross anatomy course. Poster presented at Experimental Biology, San Diego.

    Previous academic appointments

    • Instructor, Department of Neurobiology and Anatomical Sciences, UMMC, 2010-14

    Accomplishments and honors

    • Patrick Capretta Memorial Scholarship for research, Miami University, 2006
    • Graduate Achievement Award, Miami University, 2004
    • William Smith Neuroscience Award, Miami University, 2004
    • Letter of commendation for graduate studies, Miami University, 2003