Red X iconGreen tick iconYellow tick icon

John ReynoldsProfessor John Reynolds' primary focus is on learning and movement generation processes in the basal ganglia and cerebral cortex.

In the basal ganglia, the emphasis is on unraveling the normal role of dopamine in learning and memory in vivo. Normal functioning of this process is critical to our ability to learn and perform new skills. The dysfunction of cells in the substantia nigra and striatum underlies the pathophysiology of brain disorders such as Parkinson's and Huntington's, respectively. This research involves a variety of techniques including electrophysiological recording, molecular biology, immunohistochemistry and operant behaviour.

Current collaborations include local groups in the University of Otago Departments of Physiology (Hyland lab), Psychology (Abraham lab), Chemistry (Tan and Jameson labs), Biochemistry (Dearden lab) and Anatomy (Parr-Brownlie and Oorschot labs), and national and international groups in Sheffield (Prof Peter Redgrave), and Okinawa (Professors Jeff Wickens and Gordon Arbuthnott).

Recently, his lab has begun to investigate synaptic plasticity processes in the cerebral cortex, taking a translational approach to their application for recovery from stroke, with collaborators at the University of Otago (Shemmell lab), the University of Auckland (Associate Professor Bronwen Connor), the University of Western Australia (Professor Chris Lind) and in Chicago (Dr Kuei-Yuan Tseng).

Find out more about Professor Reynolds' research


Vautrelle, N., Coizet, V., Leriche, M., Dahan, L., Schulz, J. M., Zhang, Y.-F., … Reynolds, J. N. J. (2023). Sensory reinforced corticostriatal plasticity. Current Neuropharmacology. Advance online publication. doi: 10.2174/1570159X21666230801110359

Reynolds, J. N. J., Avvisati, R., Dodson, P. D., Fisher, S. D., Oswald, M. J., Wickens, J. R., & Zhang, Y.-F. (2022). Coincidence of cholinergic pauses, dopaminergic activation and depolarisation of spiny projection neurons drives synaptic plasticity in the striatum. Nature Communications, 13, 1296. doi: 10.1038/s41467-022-28950-0

Zhang, Y.-F., Reynolds, J. N. J., & Cragg, S. J. (2018). Pauses in cholinergic interneuron activity are driven by excitatory input and delayed rectification, with dopamine modulation. Neuron, 98(5), 918-925. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2018.04.027

Fisher, S. D., Robertson, P. B., Black, M. J., Redgrave, P., Sagar, M. A., Abraham, W. C., & Reynolds, J. N. J. (2017). Reinforcement determines the timing dependence of corticostriatal synaptic plasticity in vivo. Nature Communications, 8, 334. doi: 10.1038/s41467-017-00394-x

Reynolds, J. N. J., Hyland, B. I., & Wickens, J. (2001). A cellular mechanism of reward-related learning. Nature, 413, 67-70.

Back to top