The University of Texas at Dallas School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Catherine A. Thorn

Assistant Professor

Research Interests

Synaptic and circuit dynamics underlying basal ganglia dependent motor learning & habit formation; coordination of multiple memory systems

Curriculum Vitae


Email: [email protected]
Phone: 972-883-7234
Office: BSB_13.331
Campus Mail Code: BSB 14
Website: Motor and Habit Learning Lab


Dr. Thorn’s research examines how learning-related changes in neural activity within the cortex and basal ganglia support memory encoding and behavioral performance improvement. Her work is particularly focused on understanding the synaptic mechanisms underlying neural dynamics and cross-structure communication, both within cortico-basal ganglia loops and across competing learning and memory systems. Her lab uses in vitro and in vivo electrophysiology combined with optogenetics, pharmacology and rodent behavior to characterize learning-related neural activity at multiple levels of investigation — from single synapses to behaving animal. Dr. Thorn earned her bachelor’s degree from Georgia Tech and master’s and doctoral degrees from MIT.

Recent and Selected Representative Publications

Recent Articles in Peer-Refereed Journals

Vagus Nerve Stimulation Promotes Cortical Reorganization and Reduces Task-Dependent Calorie Intake in Male and Female Rats. Tseng CT, Brougher J, Gaulding SJ, Hassan BS, Thorn CA. Brain Res. 2020 Dec 1;1748:147099. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2020.147099. Epub 2020 Sep 4.

Striatal, Hippocampal, and Cortical Networks Are Differentially Responsive to the M4- and M1-Muscarinic Acetylcholine Receptor Mediated Effects of Xanomeline. Thorn CA, Moon J, Bourbonais CA, Harms J, Edgerton JR, Stark E, Steyn SJ, Butter CR, Lazzaro JT, O’Connor RE, Popiolek M. 2019; ACS Chemical Neuroscience. 2019 Mar 20;10(3):1753-1764. PMID: 30480428.

Effects of M1 and M4 activation on excitatory synaptic transmission in CA1. Thorn CA, Popiolek M, Stark E, Edgerton JR. Hippocampus. 2017; 27(7):794-810. PMID: 28422371 PMCID: PMC5573954.

Differential entrainment and learning-related dynamics of spike and local field potential activity in the sensorimotor and associative striatum. Thorn CA, Graybiel AM. The Journal of neuroscience: the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience. 2014; 34(8):2845-59. PMID: 24553926 PMCID: PMC3931500.

View more of Catherine Thorn’s publications