Christa McIntyre

Associate Professor - Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Tags: Cognition and Neuroscience

Professional Preparation

Postdoctoral Fellow - Neurobiology
The University of California, Irvine - 2006
Ph.D. - Psychobiology
University of Virginia - 2000
B.A. - Psychology
American University - 1994

Research Areas

Research Interests

Information acquired during daily encounters is not readily encoded into memory, but requires some effort or rehearsal to be preserved. In contrast, experiences that are either arousing or emotionally meaningful in content appear to be permanently stored into memory without conscious effort. My research is aimed at understanding the effect of emotional arousal on memory storage. Research findings to date indicate that events that are sufficiently arousing to be remembered for the long-term lead to activation of the amygdala. This amygdala activation may, in turn, initiate long-term memory storage by influencing synaptic strength in other areas of the brain, such as the hippocampus and cortex. I am currently using in vivo microdialysis, western blots, immunohistochemstry and in situ hybridization to better understand how emotion-induced amygdala activity may modulate the expression of synaptic proteins in areas that underlie memory storage.

This research is aimed at gaining information regarding the neuronal signals that determine whether a memory will be stored for the long term and may shed some light on the precise mechanisms involved in the synaptic changes that underlie memory. Such knowledge may ultimately be used to benefit individuals suffering from various memory disorders including Alzheimers disease and post traumatic stress disorder.

Publications

Roesler R, Parent MB, LaLumiere RT, McIntyre CK. Amygdala-hippocampal interactions in synaptic plasticity and memory formation. Neurobiol Learn Mem. 2021 Jul 21;184:107490. doi: 10.1016/j.nlm.2021.107490. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 34302951. 2021 - publications
Souza RR, Robertson NM, McIntyre CK, Rennaker RL, Hays SA, Kilgard MP. Vagus nerve stimulation enhances fear extinction as an inverted-U function of stimulation intensity. Exp Neurol. 2021 Jul;341:113718. doi: 10.1016/j.expneurol.2021.113718. Epub 2021 Apr 15. PMID: 33844986. 2021 - publications
Souza RR, Oleksiak CR, Tabet MN, Rennaker RL, Hays SA, Kilgard MP, McIntyre CK. Vagus nerve stimulation promotes extinction generalization across sensory modalities. Neurobiol Learn Mem. 2021 May;181:107425. doi: 10.1016/j.nlm.2021.107425. Epub 2021 Mar 23. PMID: 33771710. 2021 - publications
Ferland-Beckham C, Chaby LE, Daskalakis NP, Knox D, Liberzon I, Lim MM, McIntyre C, Perrine SA, Risbrough VB, Sabban EL, Jeromin A, Haas M. Systematic Review and Methodological Considerations for the Use of Single Prolonged Stress and Fear Extinction Retention in Rodents. Front Behav Neurosci. 2021 May 14;15:652636. doi: 10.3389/fnbeh.2021.652636. PMID: 34054443; PMCID: PMC8162789. 2021 - publications
Wahlstrom KL, Alvarez-Dieppa AC, McIntyre CK, LaLumiere RT. The medial entorhinal cortex mediates basolateral amygdala effects on spatial memory and downstream activity-regulated cytoskeletal-associated protein expression. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2021 May;46(6):1172-1182. doi: 10.1038/s41386-020-00875-6. Epub 2020 Oct 2. PMID: 33007779; PMCID: PMC8115646. 2021 - publications
Vanneste S, Mohan A, Yoo HB, Huang Y, Luckey AM, McLeod SL, Tabet MN, Souza RR, McIntyre CK, Chapman S, Robertson IH, To WT. The peripheral effect of direct current stimulation on brain circuits involving memory. Sci Adv. 2020 Nov 4;6(45):eaax9538. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.aax9538. PMID: 33148657; PMCID: PMC7673706. 2020 - publications
Souza RR, Robertson NM, Mathew E, Tabet MN, Bucksot JE, Pruitt DT, Rennaker RL, Hays SA, McIntyre CK, Kilgard MP. Efficient parameters of vagus nerve stimulation to enhance extinction learning in an extinction-resistant rat model of PTSD. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2020 Apr 20;99:109848. doi: 10.1016/j.pnpbp.2019.109848. Epub 2019 Dec 19. PMID: 31863872. 2020 - publications
Mathew E, Tabet MN, Robertson NM, Hays SA, Rennaker RL, Kilgard MP, McIntyre CK, Souza RR. Vagus nerve stimulation produces immediate dose-dependent anxiolytic effect in rats. J Affect Disord. 2020 Mar 15;265:552-557. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2019.11.090. Epub 2019 Nov 13. PMID: 31784117. 2020 - publications
Noble LJ, Chuah A, Callahan KK, Souza RR, McIntyre CK. Peripheral effects of vagus nerve stimulation on anxiety and extinction of conditioned fear in rats. Learn Mem. 2019 Jun 17;26(7):245-251. doi: 10.1101/lm.048447.118. PMID: 31209119; PMCID: PMC6581007. 2019 - publications
Souza RR, Robertson NM, Pruitt DT, Gonzales PA, Hays SA, Rennaker RL, Kilgard MP, McIntyre CK. Vagus nerve stimulation reverses the extinction impairments in a model of PTSD with prolonged and repeated trauma. Stress. 2019 Jul;22(4):509-520. doi: 10.1080/10253890.2019.1602604. Epub 2019 Apr 23. PMID: 31010369. 2019 - publications

Appointments

Associate Professor
The University of Texas at Dallas [2013–Present]
Cognition and Neuroscience Program Head
The University of Texas at Dallas [2016–2017]
Neuroscience Program Head
The University of Texas at Dallas [2014–2016]
Assistant Professor
The University of Texas at Dallas [2006–2013]
Instructor
Chapman University, Orange, CA [2005–2005]
Editor
Science Right: www.writescienceright.com [2003–2006]
Postdoctoral Researcher
University of California, Irvine, Irvine, CA [1999–2006]
Teaching Assistant
University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA [1994–1998]
Graduate Researcher
University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA [1994–1999]

Awards

Nominee: President's Award - The University of Texas at Dallas [2017]
Nominee: Chancellor's Award - The University of Texas System [2016]
Aage Moller Teaching Award - The University of Texas at Dallas [2013]
Roger Russell Award - The University of California, Irvine [2002]
Ralph W. Gerard Fellowship - The University of California, Irvine [1999]
Dissertation Fellowship - The University of Virginia [1998]

Additional Information

Patents
Title: Timing Control for Paired PlasticityInventors: Michael Kilgard, Lawrence Cauller, Navzer Engineer, Christa McIntyre, and Will RoselliniIssued date: 7/16/13 Title: Methods for Enhancing Exposure Therapy using Vagus Nerve StimulationInventors: Christa McIntyre, Navzer Engineer, and Michael KilgardIssued date: 7/28/15 Title: Systems, Methods, and Devices for Paired PlasticityInventors: Lawrence Cauller, Michael Kilgard, Navzer Engineer, Christa McIntyre, and Will RoselliniIssued date: 7/28/15
Service
Panelist and ad-hoc grant reviewer for: National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

Member of Biobehavioral Regulation Learning and Ethology (BRLE) study section (2017-present)
Panelist          Learning and Memory (LAM) study section (2012-2016)
Panelist          Pathophysiological Basis of Mental Disorders and Addiction (PMDA) study                                    section (2015-2016)

National Institutes of Health, other institutes
Ad-hoc member of National Institute of Aging (2012)
Panelist          NIH BRAIN Special Emphasis Panel (2016)
Panelist          NIH Acute Neural Injury and Epilepsy (2016)

Veterans Administration (VA)
Panelist          Mental Health and Behavioral Sciences (2020)
Panelist          Small Projects in Rehabilitation Research (2021)

National Science Foundation (NSF) Panelist           October 2009 (Arlington, VA)                         October 2011 (Arlington, VA) Ad hoc reviewer (December 2013) Human Frontiers Science Program (HFSP) Mail Reviewer (2011) 
Professional memberships
  • Society for Neuroscience (1995-present)
  • Cellular and Molecular Cognition Society (2007-present)
  • Pavlovian Society (2018-present)

News Articles

Professor of Neuroscience Applauded By Peers, Students
Dr. Christa McIntyre-Rodriguez, an assistant professor of neuroscience, recently received the Aage Møller Teaching Award. "The award honors outstanding teaching, mentoring and supervision. Christa McIntyre-Rodriguez exemplifies these qualities,” said Dr. Bert Moore, dean of the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences and the Aage and Margareta Møller Distinguished Professor. “She is a gifted instructor and mentor known by her students and colleagues alike for her dedication to student training.” Faculty are nominated for the award by anonymous student evaluations and peer recommendations. Students in McIntyre-Rodriguez’s neuroscience laboratory methods class described her as a role model, particularly for female neuroscience students. “Dr. McIntyre-Rodriguez is simply awesome,” said one student. “I loved the debates and discussions, and her civil and encouraging reactions to whatever anyone said. We all felt appreciated.”
Study: Vagus Nerve Stimulation Shows Progress Against PTSD Symptoms
Researchers at The University of Texas at Dallas are exploring how mild stimulation of the vagus nerve could help alleviate symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a complex condition that can cause debilitating anxiety and mental anguish. 

The vagus nerve controls the parasympathetic nervous system, which oversees a vast array of crucial bodily functions including digestion and slowing the heart rate. Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) is already used as a treatment for disorders including epilepsy and depression, and it has been shown to enhance memory retention. 
National Funding Will Support Research on Treatment for Anxiety
Two professors in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences  recently received national funding to study the mechanisms behind a proposed new treatment for anxiety disorders.

The National Institute of Mental Health grant will provide $423,000 over the next three years to Dr. Christa McIntyre-Rodriguez and Dr. Sven Kroener to fund their research.

“This grant will enable us to address unresolved questions,” said McIntyre-Rodriguez, principal investigator on the grant. “Previously, we found a method to enhance learning that a formerly dangerous situation is no longer dangerous.
Halloween Frights Can Have Scary Good Benefits, Neuroscientist Says
Halloween often is marked with scary movies, gory costumes and haunted houses. According to a UT Dallas researcher, such events provide an outlet for the release of pent-up fears while at the same time helping individuals feel stronger and sharper.
Dr. Christa McIntyre
, associate professor of neuroscience in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, said fear can help people stay away from danger, but its neurological effect can attract people, as well.
“Some people intentionally put themselves into situations where they will experience fear, such as haunted houses, horror movies and roller coasters,” McIntyre said.

Funding

Vagus nerve stimulation targets fear pathways to enhance extinction of conditioned fear
$498,116 - National Institute of Mental Health R56 [2021/05–2022/04]
Co-PI
Neural pathways modulating memory consolidation
$1,500,000 - National Institute of Mental Health R01 [2015/03–2022/02]
Co-PI
Pharmacologically enhancing the modification of strong modification resistant memories
$1,530,000 - National Institute of Mental Health R01 [2021/07–2023/04]
Co-Investigator
Research Initiative
$50,000 - UT Dallas School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences [2019/01–2020/01]
Co-PI
Molecular basis for the induction of reconsolidation updating
$382,500 - National Institute of Mental Health R56 [2019/03–2020/02]
Co-Investigator