Sven Kroener

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

Professional Preparation

Ph.D. - Psychology
Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany - 2000
M.A. - Psychology
Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany - 1996


Kroener S., Mulholland P.J., New N.N., Gass J.T., Becker H.C., Chandler L.J. (2012). Chronic alcohol exposure alters behavioral and synaptic plasticity of the rodent prefrontal cortex. PLoS One. 7(5):e37541. 2012 - Publication
Herold C., Palomero-Gallagher N., Hellmann B., Krner S., Theiss C, Gntrkn O, Zilles K (2011). The receptor architecture of the pigeons' nidopallium caudolaterale: an avian analogue to the mammalian prefrontal cortex. Brain Struct Funct 216(3): 239-254. 2011 - Publication
Kroener, S., Lavin, A. (2010) Altered dopamine modulation of inhibition in the prefrontal cortex of cocaine-sensitized rats. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2010 Oct;35(11):2292-304. 2010 - Publication
Kroener S., Chandler L.J., Phillips P.E., Seamans J.K. (2009) Dopamine modulates persistent synaptic activity and enhances the signal-to-noise ratio in the prefrontal cortex. PLoS One. 2009 4:e6507. 2009 - Publication
Gonzlez-Burgos, G., Kroener, S., Zaitsev, A.V., Povysheva, N.V., Krimer, L.S., Barrionuevo, G., Lewis, D.A. (2008) Functional maturation of excitatory synapses in layer 3 pyramidal neurons during postnatal development of the primate prefrontal cortex. Cereb. Cortex 18(3):626-37. 2008 - Publication
Trantham-Davidson, H.*, Krner, S.*, Seamans, J.K. (2008) Dopamine modulation of prefrontal cortex interneurons occurs independently of DARPP-32. Cereb. Cortex 18(4):951-8 (* these authors contributed equally). 2008 - Publication
Kroener, S., Krimer, L.S., Lewis, D.A., Barrionuevo, G. (2007) Dopamine increases inhibition in the monkey dorsolateral prefrontal cortex through cell type-specific modulation of interneurons. Cereb. Cortex. 17:1020-32. 2007 - Publication
Lapish, C.C., Kroener, S., Durstewitz, D., Lavin, A., Seamans, J.K. (2007) The ability of the mesocortical dopamine system to operate in distinct temporal modes. Neuropsychopharmacol. 191(3):609-25. 2007 - Publication
Povysheva, N.V., Zaitsev, A.V., Krner, S., Krimer, O.A., Rotaru, D.C., Gonzlez-Burgos, G., Lewis, D.A., Krimer, L.S. (2007) Electrophysiological differences between neurogliaform cells from monkey and rat prefrontal cortex. J Neurophysiol. 97(2):1030-9. 2007 - Publication
Tu, Y., Kroener, S., Abernathy, K., Lapish, C., Seamans, J., Chandler, L.J., Woodward, J.J. (2007) Ethanol disrupts patterns of persistent activity in prefrontal cortical neurons. J. Neurosci. 27(17):4765- 4775. 2007 - Publication

Additional Information


My lab studies the neuronal circuitry of the prefrontal cortex (PFC) and how alterations in synaptic transmission are related to schizophrenia and drug addiction.

Pathological dysfunctions that disrupt the intrinsic circuitry of the PFC and impair working memory have been implicated in numerous mental illnesses, most notably schizophrenia. More recently, the importance of the PFC in executive functions and behavioral flexibility have also made it a focus for studies into the mechanisms that underlie drug addiction.

An important cognitive feature of higher organisms is their ability to temporarily structure their behavior and to actively hold in mind information relevant for goal-attainment. This so called "working memory" is closely related to the functions of the PFC and its innervation by dopaminergic fibers.

I study the network properties that underlie the persistent neuronal activity required for working memory, using electrophysiological recordings and high-resolution calcium-imaging (Kroener et al., 2009). I am particularly interested in the functional role of inhibition in the PFC circuit, and how the activity of GABAergic interneurons (which have been identified as a main locus of change in schizophrenia) is modulated by dopamine (Kroener et al., 2007).

Projects in my laboratory also examine how drugs of abuse (specifically cocaine and alcohol) can alter PFC function. The most recent studies currently underway in my lab use an animal model of alcohol addiction to study changes in glutamatergic synaptic transmission and NMDA receptor function in the PFC. Chronic ethanol exposure induces homeostatic increases in NMDA receptors, which may affect the interplay between backpropagating action potentials and localized calcium-spikes required for spike timing-dependent plasticity, a physiologically relevant model of synaptic plasticity. Thus changes at the NMDA receptor could alter integrative properties and synaptic plasticity in PFC pyramidal neurons and they may represent pathological neuroadaptations that underlie alcohol dependence. These studies will provide insights into the mechanisms that contribute to a loss of response inhibition in the PFC during the development and maintenance of addiction to alcohol.

News Articles

Researcher Seeks Causes of Addiction, Schizophrenia
A researcher who studies the circuitry of the brain’s prefrontal cortex and how alterations in the communication between neurons are related to schizophrenia and drug addiction has joined the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences. Dr. Sven Kroener, who came to UT Dallas from the Medical University of South Carolina, is an assistant professor of neuroscience. Kroener’s research focuses primarily on understanding the neurophysiological basis of memory and exploring potential treatments that may enhance cognition in patients suffering from schizophrenia, drug addiction and other disorders. Kroener’s decision to move to UT Dallas was prompted by his interest in working with current neuroscience faculty members on projects related to his own.
Nerve Therapy Study Finds Potential Way to Reduce Drug Cravings
A new preclinical study led by a University of Texas at Dallas researcher shows that vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) therapy might have the potential to help people overcome drug addiction by helping them learn new behaviors to replace those associated with seeking drugs.

The new research, published in the January issue of the journal Learning and Memory, found that drug cravings in addicted rats were reduced when they were treated with VNS. It’s possible that the research could be applied to people who have been addicted to drugs, said senior author Dr. Sven Kroener, assistant professor in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences.
Provost Award Recognizes Faculty Who Inspire Future Researchers
For Dr. Sven Kroener, assistant professor at the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, teaching science is more than showing a student how to use a microscope or defining a GABAergic neuron.
“Science is not just data acquisition,” Kroener said. “It’s analysis and asking, ‘Did it do something to my bar graphs? Did it alter my group averages?,’ and then communicating it. If you can put together figures and then make a paper, only then is it science.”
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.
Diabetes Drug Shows Promise for Chronic Pain
Scientists seeking an effective treatment for one type of chronic pain believe a ubiquitous, generic diabetes medication might solve both the discomfort and the mental deficits that go with the pain.

“People who are in constant pain have problems thinking straight sometimes. The longer you’re in pain, the more entrenched the impairment becomes,” said Stephanie Shiers, a fourth-year cognition and neuroscience doctoral student at The University of Texas at Dallas and lead author of a study recently published in the Journal of Neuroscience. “These impairments aren’t addressed by existing therapeutics.”

In the study, UT Dallas researchers show how a type of chronic pain called neuropathic pain responds to metformin, one of the most prescribed medications worldwide, as well as to pain relievers gabapentin and clonidine.