Lora A. Becker, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Psychology
Dr. Lora Becker is coordinator of the Neuroscience Program and Director of the Major Discovery Program at the University of Evansville. She received her undergraduate dual B.S. in Biology and Psychology from Wright State University. Her M.A. degree in Psychobiology and Ph.D. degree in Behavioral Neuroscience are from Binghamton University (State University of New York at Binghamton). Her primary research activity on the role of phytoestrogens in development involves several University of Evansville students and colleagues at Cincinnati Children's Research Foundation and Razi University in Kermanshah, Iran. She came to the University of Evansville in 1999 and was awarded the Dean of Students Faculty Advisor Award in 2004 and the Dean of Arts and Sciences Teaching Award in 2007.
Dr. Becker Directs the Major Discovery Program for pre-majors. This program guides students to resources and opportunities that help them find their academic niche. She is currently the Vice Chairman of the Faculty Senate, Assistant Grand Marshal and a member of the Neu Chapel Society, Academic Assessment Committee and University Diversity Committee.
Dr. Becker's Curriculum Vitae -July 2010
Research Projects, Presentations and Publications
Phytoestrogens (estrogens found in plans such as soy and legumes) effect in the development of mammals (specifically Sprague Dawley rats). Prenatal exposure to pharmacological agents can have teratogenic (substance that interferes with embryonic development) effects on offspring. Treatments for physical ailments that are labeled 'natural' or 'homeopathic' and are derived from plants, such as phytoestrogens from soy plants, are not tested by the Food and Drug Administration for possible teratogenic effects. We are examining potential effects in offspring of dams (pregnant female rats) exposed to phytoestrogens through diet.
Bies, A. J., King, M., Becker, L. A. (2009) Anxiolytic effect of prenatal phytoestrogen exposure on social interaction behaviors in peripubescent rats. International Society for Developmental Psychobiology. Chicago, Illiniois.
Student Research Assistants:
Aaron Kunkle – Psychobiology Graduate Rebecca Odle – Chemistry Graduate
Katie (Kat) Schurmeier – Chemistry Graduate Michelle (Brown) King - Psychology Graduate
Erin Ball - Psychobiology Graduate Lindsey Burns - Psychology Graduate
Joseph Pleen – Psychology Graduate Paul Gadient – Psychobiology Graduate
Josh Yeager – Psychology Graduate Nick Jones – Psychobiology Graduate
Bryanna Lawler – Psychology Graduate Megan (Fleming) Jones– Psychology Graduate
Stephanie Pemberton – Psychology Graduate Brent Sigler – Cognitive Science Major
Alex Bies – Philosophy & Neuroscience Graduate Rebecca Totton - Psychology Major
Kandace Leehands - Neuroscience Major Bethany Sanstrum - Neuroscience Major
Hemp Seed Research
Cannabis sativa L. seed is a rich source of phytochemicals that include terpenoid compounds such as phytocannabinoids, plant sterols, and high content of (n-3), (n-6) polyunsaturated fatty acids. An adequate supply of polyunsaturated fatty acids during pregnancy and lactation is crucial for optimal fetal and postnatal development. We are investigating the dietary affect of hemp seed on the developing rat and menopausal adult rat.
Adel Saberivand, Isaac Karimi, Lora A. Becker, Aliasghar Moghaddam, Saeed Azizi-Mahmoodjigh, Masumeh Yousefi, Saeed Zavareh (Accepted, 2010) The effects of hempseed on the ovarectomized rat model of menopause. Methods and Findings in Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology
Karimi, I., Yousofi, M., Becker, L.A., Moghaddam, A. The effects of Cannabis Sativa L. seed on postnatal reproductive and neurobehavioral end points in rats. 10th Iranian Congress of Toxicology and Poisoning, 2009, May 18 – 20, 2009.
Karimi, I., Becker, L.A., Yousofi, M., Saberivand, A., Bahiraei, A., Dadyan, A. (sumbitted) The Effects of Hemp Seed during in Utero on Postnatal Reproductive and Neurobehavioral End Points in Rats. In preparation for Developmental Psychobiology
Oral Contraceptives Research
Female sex hormones can alter emotional responses and cognitive abilities while they are regulating the reproductive cycle. Naturally cycling sex hormones (estrogen and progesterone) have been shown to influence mood and reaction time. Since the 1960’s women have been regulating their reproductive cycle through oral contraceptives. The purpose of this study is to examine the effect of either naturally cycling hormone levels or those taking oral contraceptives on anxiety responses and reaction times in traditional female college students.
Becker, L. A., Knust, K., Umans, R., Sipes. (2009) Investigation of anxiety responding and reaction time in college women either naturally cycling or on oral contraceptives Society for Neuroscience, Chicago, Illinois
Student Researcher assistants:
Kym Knust – Psychology Graduate Robyn Umans – Neuroscience Graduate
Zoe Sipes – English Graduate Kandace Leeands - Neuroscience Major
Learning and memory are poorly understood yet critical aspects of our existence. In recent research the 5-HT2a receptor has been implicated in playing an important and facilitatory role in multiple cognitive processes including learning, working, spatial, and associative memory, and anxiety. The location and electrophysiology of the 5-HT2a receptor make it a critical aspect of neural function for cognition and learning. We are studying the the selective 5-HT2a agonist DOI (2,5-dimethoxy-4-iodoamphetamine) on adult male Sprague-Dawley rats with tests of novel object recognition and spatial learning in a Morris Water Maze.
Student Research Assistants:
Alan Barker – Cognitive Science Graduate Shane Reuter – Cognitive Science Major Alex Bies – Philosophy & Neuroscience Graduate Brent Sigler – Cognitive Science Major
Visual Adaptation Research
Over the past century, many articles have been published regarding the use of prism glasses for adaptation to optical shift ranging in purpose from clinical treatment of neural palsy resulting in paralysis of muscles involved in eye movement to isolation of neuropsychological mechanism and characterization of anatomical brain region function. These studies have involved normal and brain-lesion patients and non-human primates (Pisella et al., 2005; Weiner, Hallett, & Funkenstein, 1983), skilled professionals and untrained adult participants (Hadata, Rosetti, & Miall, 2006; Krigolson, Van Gyn, Heath, & Tremblay, 2006) in activities such as pointing, walking (Martin, Norris, Gregor, & Thach, 2002) , or throwing clay balls or darts. Therefore, this project contributes to a long line of studies involving the generation of an adaptive response to a visual shift from which various consequences have been tested.
Bies, A. J., Sigler, B., Reuter S. R., Becker, L. A., (2009) Overhand throwing in adaptation tp prism lenses generalizes to other throwing motions. Society for Neuroscience, Chicago, Illinois.
Student Research Assistants:
Alex Bies – Philosophy & Neuroscience Graduate Brent Sigler – Cognitive Science Major
Shane Reuter – Cognitive Science Major Jeni Petty - Psychology Graduate
Kandace Leehans - Neuroscience Major