Lucien Thompson

Lucien Thompson

Associate Professor

Research Interests: Aging, with an emphasis on learning and memory, neuronal excitability, loss and recovery of function, and nootropic (memory-enhancing) drugs

Tags: Cognition and Neuroscience Neuroscience-Faculty

Professional Preparation

Postdoctoral Training - Neurobiology
Northwestern University - 1989
Ph.D. - Neuroscience
University of Virginia - 1988
M.A. - Experimental Psychology
California State University, San Bernardino, California - 1983
B.A. - Psychology
California State College - 1981

Research Areas

Research Interests

As a cellular- and systems-level neuroscientist, I strive to understand and improve the basic cellular mechanisms of learning and memory. I have concentrated my research efforts on regulation of post-synaptic excitability, more specifically, the necessary role of Ca2+-dependent K+ channels.

These K+ channels play a crucial role in memory-related plasticity across the lifespan. They interact strongly with NMDA (NR) excitatory glutamate receptors to regulate excitability in Hebbian models, and bridge important gaps in multiple forms of meta-plasticity critical for memory consolidation. Our work shows that plasticity of these K+ channels is highly conserved: across different species, different tasks, and across brain regions (i.e. they are a necessary convergence point in learning and in memory consolidation).

Our learning and memory research incorporates both chronic in vivo and acute in vitro neurophysiological recordings, coupled with molecular/neurochemical assays, as well as a wide range of behavioral approaches. Recent investigations have assessed the effects of channel-specific antagonists, of anti-oxidants, stress, and emotion, and have manipulated or assessed cellular mechanisms in experience- and aging-dependent neuropathologies including tinnitus and diabetes. Our data clearly demonstrate adaptive shifts in cognitive and neurobiological strategies for storing and accessing memories as the brain ages, yielding new potential nootropic targets for functional improvement (i.e. better memory).


Delayed onset of neuropathic pain in the aged after peripheral nerve injury. 2017 - Conference Paper
Editorial: Eyeblink Classical Conditioning in Psychiatric Conditions: Novel Uses for a Classic Paradigm 2017 - Journal Article
Eyeblink Conditioning in Psychiatric Conditions - State of the Field and Future Directions 2017 - Book
A High-Fat Diet Causes Impairment in Hippocampal Memory and Sex-Dependent Alterations in Peripheral Metabolism 2016 - Journal Article
Acute high-intensity noise induces rapid Arc protein expression but fails to rapidly change GAD expression in amygdala and hippocampus of rats: Effects of treatment with D-cycloserine 2016 - Journal Article
High-fat diet impairs spatial memory and hippocampal intrinsic excitability and sex-dependently alters circulating insulin and hippocampal insulin sensitivity 2016 - Journal Article
Memory-enhancing intra-basolateral amygdala clenbuterol infusion reduces post-burst afterhyperpolarizations in hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neurons following inhibitory avoidance learning 2015 - Journal Article
D-Cycloserine enhances both intrinsic excitability of CA1 hippocampal neurons and expression of activity-regulated cytoskeletal (Arc) protein 2014 - Journal Article


J.R. Wood award - HPAC [2018]
Student's Choice teaching award - BBS [2016]
Moller teaching award - BBS [2014]


Program Head
The University of Texas at Dallas [2000–Present]
Associate Professor
The University of Texas at Dallas [1997–Present]
Research Assistant Professor
Northwestern University Medical School [1992–1997]
Research Associate
Northwestern University Medical School [1989–1991]
Postdoctoral Fellow
Northwestern University Medical School [1988–1989]
Teaching Fellow
University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA [1986–1988]
Presidential Fellow
University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA [1983–1986]
Teaching Fellow
University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA [1983–1985]
Statistical Fellow
California State University, San Bernardino, California [1981–1983]
Department Chair
Department of Neuroscience [2020–2021]
First year of new Department


Hippocampal neurons act as place cells
2002–2002 Neuroscience brownbag talk, Oct. 4.
Anticholinesterase treatment in aging: Behavioral and neurophysiological effects.
2001–2001 Neuroscience brownbag talk, Nov. 30.
Hippocampal cellular correlates of learning
2002–2002 Neuroscience brownbag talk, Mar. 29.
Non-synaptic neural plasticity in learning and aging.
2001–2001 Neurobiology seminar, School of Life Sciences, UT San Antonio, June 29.
Hippocampal cellular correlates of learning.
2003–2003 Neuroscience lecture, Dept. of Psychiatry, VA Medical Center, Dallas, TX, Feb. 7.

Additional Information

2001 - Behavioral Neuroscience
Awards and Honors
  • 1972 Eagle Scout
  • 1981 Presidential Fellow, California State College. Academic excellence award.
  • 1982 Elected member of Psi Chi, Honor Society for Psychology.
  • 1983 Student Research Fellowship, Biofeedback Society of America.
  • 1983 Presidential Fellow, University of Virginia. Academic excellence award.
  • 1984-1986 President, Neuroscience ]ournal Club, University of Virginia.
Reviewer for

Grant Applications:

  • Alzheimer's Association (1998 - )
  • Cognitive Functional Neuroscience Review Committee, Special Emphasis Panels, NIMH, (1998 -)
  • Developmental Neuroscience Panel, NIH (1995 - 1998)
  • Loan Repayment Program, NIH (2006 - )


  • Nature (1993- )
  • Journal of Neuroscience (1994 - )
  • Neurobiology of Aging (1995 - )
  • Brain Research (1995 - )
  • Journal of Neurophysiology (1996 - )
  • Behavioral Neuroscience (1997 - )
  • Journal of Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics (1997 - )
  • Hippocampus (1997 - )
  • Trends in Neuroscience (1998 - )
  • Trends in Pharmacological Sciences (1998 - )
  • Behavioral Pharmacology (2005 - )
  • Neuroscience Letters (2006 - )
  • European Journal of Neuroscience (2006 - )

News Articles

Research Widens Study of Brain's Role in Tinnitus
Research Widens Study of Brain's Role in Tinnitus UT Dallas neuroscientists are examining whether multiple areas of the brain are culpable in causing tinnitus, research that could enable new medical interventions against the disabling effects of severe “ringing in the ears.” Dr. Tres Thompson, associate professor in UT Dallas’ School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, found that exposure to loud noises induces plasticity in the hippocampus, a section of the brain not primarily associated with hearing but known for learning-related plasticity. This neuroplasticity – changes in the function of the brain in reaction to experiences – could open the door to long-term tinnitus, he said. A three-year, $135,000 grant from the American Tinnitus Association supports this work in Thompson’s lab. The next stage of research will focus on drug treatments aimed at reducing or reversing plasticity. Thompson wants to test whether certain drugs targeting plasticity mechanisms might inhibit or change plasticity, protecting against tinnitus.


Professional Affiliations
1998- Alzheimer's Association Medical & Scientific Advisory Council 1984- Society for Neuroscience 1992-1999 American Psychological Society 1981-1986 American Psychological Association 1981-1984 Biofeedback Society of America
Graduate Student Training
Ph.D.s Chaired at UTD: john C. Gant, Ph.D.,]uly 2003 Patricia Blau, Ph.D., October 2002 Tracy Greer, Ph.D., ]uly 2002 Huyen Bui, Ph.D., Nov 2006 At Northwestern, I co-supervised graduate work by the following graduate students, with whom I published work from their theses: Matthew Oh, Ph.D., 2000 john Power, Ph.D., 1998 Michelle Kronforst, Ph.D., 1997 Maria Carrillo, Ph.D., 1995 james R. Moyer, jr., Ph.D., 1994 I am currently sponsoring (as advisor and Committee Chair) the following Ph.D. students in the Cognition & Neuroscience program of the School of Behavioral & Brain Sciences: Completed literature review, 1st research project; committee forming: Tim Goble, M.S. Taban Seif, M.S. Christi Kelly, M.S. [cosponsoring w. Robby Greene, M.D., VAMC, Dallas & Assistant Chair, Psychiatry Dept., UT Southwestern] Completed 1st research project; literature review in progress: Barbara Gibbons, M.S. Penny Lea, M.S. Working on 1st research project: Gef Farmer, B.S.