Jennifer Swann, Ph.D.

My lab uses hormones and sex differences to tease out the secrets of the brain.   Simply put if the brain regulates behavior than differences in the behavior should be reflected by differences in the brain.  Males and females in a number of species display very different, sex specific behaviors, this implies that their brains are also different.  Similarly hormones, particularly steroids have dramatic effects on the expression of a number of behaviors.  In general, these effects take days to emerge and last for days allowing us to study the brain during the development and expression of the behavior.  And steroids have two different effects in the regulation of sex specific behaviors.  They “organize” the brain during development casting it as male or female, and they “activate” the brain  in adulthood to allow the expression of the behavior.

Our lab has been examining the MPN mag, a small nucleus in the caudal lateral aspects of the preoptic area, that plays a critical role in male sex behavior by integrating hormonal and pheromonal signals.  We have mapped the connections of the nucleus, identified subtle sex differences in neuronal cell type, and are working to determine the biochemical and sub cellular events that mediate steroidal regulation of male sex behavior.  At present we are exploring the role of growth factors in mediating sex specific hormone effects on connectivity.  We are also exploring the role of the olfactory system in providing efficiency that follows sexual experience.

My background includes studies in circadian rhythms. We have found  circadian influences on adult neurogenesis and apoptosis.

I also oversee novel projects initiated by high school students and undergraduates.

Professional Affiliations:

International Behavioral Neuroscience Society

Society for Behavioral Neuroendocrinology

  • Program Committee (1999-2001)
  • Co-Chair, Professional Development Committee

Society for College and University Planning – board member