Dr. Benedetta Leuner

Assistant Professor, Behavioral Neuroscience

Research Interests

My laboratory is primarily interested in the maternal brain and behavior. More specifically, we seek to identify the neurobiological mechanisms underlying changes in emotional, cognitive, parental and motivational functioning during motherhood. The lab employs combinations of behavioral paradigms that tap into these functions along with neuroanatomical, neuroendocrinological, biochemical, neurochemical and pharmacological techniques to link neural changes to behavior during the normal postpartum state and using an animal model of postpartum depression.


Leuner B, Sabihi S (2016). The birth of new neurons in the maternal brain: endocrine regulation and functional implications. Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology, In press.

Haim A, Albin-Brooks C, Sherer M, Mills E, Leuner B (2016) The effects of gestational stress and SSRI antidepressant treatment on structural plasticity in the postpartum brain - A translational model for postpartum depression. Hormones and Behavior 77:124-131.

Haim A, Sherer M, Leuner B (2014) Gestational stress induces persistent depressive-like behavior and structural modifications within the postpartum nucleus accumbens. European Journal of Neuroscience 40:3766-3773.

Sabihi S, Dong SM, Durosko NE, Leuner B (2014) Oxytocin in the medial prefrontal cortex regulates maternal care, maternal aggression and anxiety during the postpartum period. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience 8:258.

Sabihi S, Durosko NE, Dong SM, Leuner B (2014) Oxytocin in the prelimbic medial prefrontal cortex reduces anxiety-like behavior in female and male rats. Psychoneuroendocrinology 45:31-42.

Leuner B, Fredericks PJ, Nealer C, Albin-Brooks C (2014) Chronic gestational stress leads to depressive-like behavior and compromises medial prefrontal cortex structure and function during the postpartum period. PLoS One 9:e89912.

Leuner B, Shors TJ (2013) Stress, anxiety, and dendritic spines: what are the connections? Neuroscience (Special Issue “Spine Pathogenesis in Brain Disorders”) 251:108-119.

Leuner B, Caponiti JM, Gould E (2012) Oxytocin stimulates adult neurogenesis even under conditions of stress and elevated glucocorticoids. Hippocampus 22:861-868.

Leuner B, Gould E (2010) Dendritic growth in medial prefrontal cortex and cognitive flexibility are enhanced during the postpartum period. J Neurosci 30:13499-13503.

Leuner B, Glasper ER, Gould E (2010) Parenting and plasticity. Trends Neurosci 33:465-473.

Leuner B, Glasper ER, Gould E (2010) Sexual experience promotes adult neurogenesis in the hippocampus despite an initial elevation in stress hormones. PLoS One 5:e11597.

Leuner B, Gould E (2010) Structural plasticity and hippocampal function. Annu Rev Psychol 61:111-140, C1-3.

Leuner B, Glasper ER, Gould E (2010) Sexual experience promotes adult neurogenesis in the hippocampus despite an initial elevation in stress hormones. PLoS One 5:e11597.

Leuner B, Shors TJ (2010) Synapse formation and memory. In Encyclopedia of Behavioral Neuroscience (Koob G, LeMoal M, Thompson RF, Eds), Elsevier.

Glasper ER, Llorens-Martín M, Leuner B, Gould E, Trejo JL (2010) Blockade of IGF-I has complex effects on structural plasticity in the hippocampus. Hippocampus 20:706-712.

Leuner B, Glasper ER, Gould E (2009) Thymidine analog methods for studies of adult neurogenesis are not equally sensitive. J Comp Neurol 517:123-133.

Glasper ER, Leuner B, Gould E (2008) Adult neurogenesis finds its niche. Nat Neurosci 11:731.

Leuner B, Mirescu C, Noiman L, Gould E (2007) Maternal experience inhibits the production of immature neurons in the hippocampus during the postpartum period through elevations in adrenal steroids. Hippocampus 17:434-442.

Leuner B, Kozorovitskiy Y, Gross C, Gould E (2007) Diminished adult neurogenesis in the marmoset brain precedes old age. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 104:17169-17173.

Leuner B, Glasper ER, Mirescu C (2007) A critical time for new neurons in the adult hippocampus. J Neurosci 27:5845-5846.

Leuner B, Shors TJ (2006) Learning during motherhood: a resistance to stress. Horm Behav 50:38-51.

Leuner B, Waddell J, Gould E, Shors TJ (2006) Temporal discontiguity is neither necessary nor sufficient for learning-induced effects on adult neurogenesis. J Neurosci 26:13437-13442.

Leuner B, Gould E, Shors TJ (2006) Is there a link between adult neurogenesis and learning? Hippocampus 16:216-224.

Shors TJ, Falduto J, Leuner B (2004) The opposite effects of stress on dendritic spines in male versus female rats are NMDA receptor dependent. Eur J Neurosci 19:145-150.

Leuner B, Mendolia-Loffredo S, Shors TJ (2004) High levels of estrogen enhance associative memory formation in ovariectomized females. Psychoneuroendocrinology 29:883-890.

Leuner B, Shors TJ (2004) New spines, new memories. Molec Neurobiol 29:117-130.

Leuner B, Mendolia-Loffredo S, Kozorovitskiy Y, Samburg D, Gould E, Shors TJ (2004) Learning enhances the survival of new neurons beyond the time when the hippocampus is required for memory. J Neurosci 24:7477-7481.

Leuner B, Mendolia-Loffredo S, Shors TJ (2004) Males and females respond differently to controllability and antidepressant treatment. Biol Psychiatry 56:964-970.

Leuner B, Falduto J, Shors TJ (2003) Associative memory formation increases the observation of dendritic spines in the hippocampus. J Neurosci 23:659-665.

Shors TJ, Leuner B (2003) Estrogen-mediated effects on depression and memory formation in females. J Affect Disord 74:85-96.

Behavioral Neuroendocrinology Group

  • Ph.D.: Rutgers University
  • Postdoctoral Training: Princeton University

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(614) 292-5218
051 Psychology Building
1835 Neil Avenue
Columbus, OH 43210