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Catherine Thorn

Catherine Thorn

Assistant Professor

Research Interests: Motor and habit learning, with an emphasis on the role of neuromodulators in motor system plasticity


Professional Preparation

PhD - Electrical Eng. & Computer Sci.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology - 2010
SM - Electrical Engineering
Massachusetts Institute of Technology - 2004
BS - Electrical Engineering
Georgia Institute of Technology - 2002

Research Areas

Research in the Motor and Habit Learning Lab aims to understand how we learn new motor skills and develop the many motor habits we use every day. Motor learning is supported by the learning and memory circuitry of the basal ganglia and related structures — including the neocortex, thalamus and many neuromodulatory systems. We use rodent models of motor learning to study the neuronal changes that lead to improved performance and habitual behaviors.


Longitudinal assessment of skilled forelimb motor impairments in DJ-1 knockout rats. 2022 - Journal Article
Vagus Nerve Stimulation Induced Motor Map Plasticity Does Not Require Cortical Dopamine. 2021 - Journal Article
Local activation of α2 adrenergic receptors is required for vagus nerve stimulation induced motor cortical plasticity. 2021 - Journal Article
Self-Administration of Right Vagus Nerve Stimulation Activates Midbrain Dopaminergic Nuclei. 2021 - Journal Article
Preparation of peripheral nerve stimulation electrodes for chronic implantation in rats 2020 - Journal Article
A Highly Selective MNK Inhibitor Rescues Deficits Associated with Fragile X Syndrome in Mice 2020 - Journal Article
Vagus nerve stimulation promotes cortical reorganization and reduces task-dependent calorie intake in male and female rats 2020 - Journal Article
Striatal, Hippocampal, and Cortical Networks Are Differentially Responsive to the M4- and M1-Muscarinic Acetylcholine Receptor Mediated Effects of Xanomeline 2019 - Journal Article


Assistant Professor
The University of Texas at Dallas [2018–Present]
Postdoctoral Fellow
Pfizer Worldwide Research and Development [2014–2017]
Postdoctoral Fellow
Brown University [2011–2014]

Additional Information

Motor and Habit Learning Lab Website


R01: Vagus nerve stimulation targets fear pathways to enhance extinction of conditioned fear (co-PI)
- NIMH [2022/05–2022/05]
UTD SPIRe: Inferring effective connectivity of sparsely sampled neuronal networks (co-PI)
- The University of Texas at Dallas [2022/01–2022/12]
F32: Parafascicular Nucleus: Its Role in Cortical and Striatal Salience Encoding (PI)
- NINDS [2012/10–2014/10]