Dr Gonzalo Urcelay

Lecturer in PsychologyGonzaloUrcelay.jpg

Behavioural Neuroscience, Behaviour and Cognition research groups

Emailgpu1 AT le.ac.uk

Tel: +44 (0)116 229 7173

Fax: +44 (0)116 229 7169

Address:
Room 3.16, Centre for Medicine,
University of Leicester, Lancaster Rd, Leicester, LE1 7HA, UK

Teaching

First, second and third year modules.

Publications

Urcelay, G. P., & Miller, R. R. (2006a). Counteraction of overshadowing and degraded contingency: support for the extended comparator hypothesis. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes, 32, 21-32.

Urcelay, G. P., & Miller, R. R. (2006b). A comparator view of Pavlovian and differential inhibition. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes, 32, 271-283.

Pineño, O., Castro, L., & Urcelay, G. P. (2007). Interacción entre estímulos [Stimulus interactions]. In O. Pineño, M. A. Vadillo, & H. Matute (Eds.), Psicología del aprendizaje (pp. 25-48). Badajoz, Spain: Abecedario.

Miller, S. S., & Urcelay, G. P. (2007). The central amygdala joins the lateral amygdala in the fear memory party. Journal of Neuroscience, 27, 2151-2152.

Urcelay, G. P., & Miller, R. R. (2008a). Counteraction between two kinds of conditioned inhibition training. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, 15, 103-107.

Urcelay, G. P., Perelmuter, O., & Miller, R. R. (2008b). Pavlovian backward conditioned inhibition in humans: Summation and retardation tests. Behavioural Processes, 77, 299-305.

Urcelay, G. P., & Miller, R.R. (2008).  Retrieval from memory.  In Learning theory and behavior, R. Menzel, Ed., Vol. 1 (pp. 53-74) of Learning and memory - A comprehensive reference, J.H. Byrne, Ed-in-Chief.  Oxford, UK: Elsevier.  Reprinted in Concise learning and memory: The editor’s selection, J.H. Byrne, Ed. (pp. 665-685).  London, UK: Academic Press.

Witnauer J. E., Urcelay, G. P., & Miller, R. R. (2008). Reduced blocking as a result of increasing the number of blocking cues. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, 15, 651-655.

Urcelay, G. P., Wheeler, D. S., & Miller, R. R. (2009). Spacing extinction trials alleviates renewal and spontaneous recovery. Learning & Behavior, 37, 60-73.

Sissons, H. T., Urcelay, G. P., & Miller, R. R. (2009) Overshadowing and CS duration: Counteraction and a reexamination of the role of within-compound associations in cue competition. Learning & Behavior, 37: 254-268.

Witnauer J. E., Urcelay, G. P., & Miller, R. R. (2009). A one-system theory which is not propositional. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 32, 228-229.

Urcelay, G. P., & Miller, R. R. (2009). Potentiation and overshadowing in Pavlovian fear conditioning. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes, 35, 340-356.

McConnell, B., Wheeler, D. S., Urcelay, G. P., & Miller, R. R. (2009) Protection from latent inhibition provided by a conditioned inhibitor. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes, 35, 498-508.

Urcelay, G. P., Lipatova, O., & Miller, R. R. (2009). Constraints on enhanced extinction resulting from extinction treatment in the presence of an added excitor. Learning & Motivation, 40, 343-363.

Urcelay, G. P., & Miller, R. R. (2010a) Two roles for the context in Pavlovian fear conditioning. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes, 36, 268-280.

Urcelay, G. P., & Miller, R. R. (2010b). On the generality and limits of abstraction in rats and humans. Animal Cognition, 13, 21-32.

Orinstein, A., Urcelay, G. P., & Miller, R. R. (2010) The role of the intertrial interval during extinction: response cessation and recovery. Behavior Therapy, 41, 14-29.

Molet, M., Urcelay, G. P., Miguez, G., & Miller, R. R. (2010) Using context to resolve temporal ambiguity. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes, 36, 126-136.

Urcelay, G. P. & Dalley, J. W. (2012). Linking ADHD, impulsivity and drug abuse: a neuropsychological perspective. In Current Topics in Behavioral Neurosciences: Behavioral Neurobiology of ADHD and its Treatment, C. Stanford, & R. Tannock, (Eds) Springer-Verlag.

Urcelay, G. P., Witnauer J. E., & Miller, R. R. (2012). The dual role of the context in postpeak performance decrements resulting from extended training. Learning & Behavior, 40, 476-493.

Urcelay, G. P. (2012). Exposure techniques: The role of extinction learning. In P. Neudeck, H. Wittchen (Eds.) , Exposure therapy: Rethinking the model — refining the method (pp. 35-63). New York, NY US: Springer Science + Business Media. doi:10.1007/978-1-4614-3342-2_4.

Murphy, E. R., Fernando A. B. P., Urcelay, G. P., Robinson, E. S. J., Mar, A. C., Theobald, D. E. H., Dalley, J. W., & Robbins, T. W (2012). Impulsive behaviour induced by both NMDA receptor antagonism and GABAA receptor activation in rat ventromedial prefrontal cortex. Psychopharmacology, 219, 401-410.

Fernando, A. B. P., Urcelay, G. P., Mar, A. C., Dickinson, A. & Robbins, T. W. (2013) Comparison of the conditioned reinforcing properties of a safety signal and appetitive stimulus: effects of d-amphetamine and anxiolytics. Psychopharmacology; 227, 195-208.

Gillan, C.M.,  Morein‐Zamir, S., Urcelay, G.P.,  Voon,  V., Sule,  A., Fineberg, N.A., Sahakian, B.J., Robbins,  T.W. (2014) Enhanced avoidance habits in obsessive‐compulsive disorder. Biological Psychiatry, 75, 631-638. doi:  10.1016/j.biopsych.2013.02.002).

Witnauer J. E., Urcelay, G. P., & Miller, R. R. (2014). The error in total error reduction. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, 108, 119-135. doi: 10.1016/j.nlm.2013.07.018.

Piñeyro, M. E., Ferrer Monti, R. I., Alfei, J. M., Bueno, A. M., & Urcelay, G. P. (2014) Memory destabilization is critical for the success of the reactivation-extinction procedure. Learning & Memory, 21(1), 785-93. doi: 10.1101/lm.032714.113.

Fernando AB, Urcelay GP, Mar AC, Dickinson A, Robbins TW (2014a), The role of the nucleus accumbens shell in the mediation of the reinforcing properties of a safety signal in free-operant avoidance: Dopamine-dependent inhibitory effects of d-amphetamine. Neuropsychopharmacology, 39(6), 1420-1430.

Eagle, D. M., Noschang, C., d’Angello, L. C., Noble, C., Day, J. O., Dongelmans, M., Theobald, D. E., Mar, A. C., Urcelay, G. P., Morein-Zamir, S., & Robbins, T. W. (2014) The dopamine D2/D3 receptor agonist quinpirole increases checking-like behaviour in an operant observing response task with uncertain reinforcement: A novel possible model of OCD. Behavioural Brain Research; 264, 207-229.

Carranza-Jasso, R., Urcelay, G. P., Nieto, J., & Sánchez-Carrasco, L. (2014) Espaciamiento entre ensayos: impliaciones en el condicionamiento contextual. In: Tendencias actuales en aprendizaje y memoria. Memorias de la 1ª Reunión Satélite de Aprendizaje y Memoria. L. Sánchez-Carrasco, J. Nieto (Eds). Universidad Nacional Autonoma de México.

Urcelay, G. P. & Miller, R. R. (2014). The functions of contexts in associative learning. Behavioural Processes. 104, 2-12.

Fernando, A. B. P., Urcelay, G. P., Mar, A. C., Dickinson, A. & Robbins, T. W. (2014b). Free-operant avoidance behavior by rats following reinforcer revaluation using opioid agonists and d-amphetamine. The Journal of Neuroscience. 34(18), 6286-6293.

Fernando, A. B. P., Urcelay, G. P., Mar, A. C., Dickinson, A. & Robbins, T. W. (2014c). Safety signals as instrumental reinforcers during free-operant avoidance. Learning & Memory, 21, 488-497.

Carranza-Jasso, R., Urcelay, G. P., Nieto, J., & Sánchez-Carrasco, L. (2014) Intertrial Intervals and Contextual Conditioning in Appetitive Pavlovian Learning: Effects over the ABA Renewal Paradigm. Behavioural Processes. 107, 47-60.

Fernando, A. B. P., Mar, A. C., Urcelay, G. P., Dickinson, A. & Robbins, T. W. (2015). Avoidance behavior: A free-operant lever press avoidance task for the assessment of the effects of safety signals on avoidance behaviour. Curr. Protoc. Neurosci. 70:8.32.1-8.32.12. doi:10.1002/0471142301.ns0832s70.

Gillan, C. M., Apergis-Schoute, A. M., Morein-Zamir, S., Urcelay, G. P., Sule, A., Fineberg, N. A., Sahakian, B. J., & Robbins, T. W. (2015) Functional neuroimaging of avoidance habits in Obsessive-Compulsive disorder. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 172(3), 284-293.

Alfei, J. M., Ferrer Monti, R. I., Molina, V. A., Bueno, A. M., & Urcelay, G. P. (2015) Prediction Error and Trace Dominance Determine The Fate of Fear Memories After Post-training Manipulations. Learning & Memory, 22, 385-400.

Prével, A., Rivière, V., Darcheville, J., & Urcelay, G. P. (2016) Conditioned reinforcement and backward association. Learning and Motivation, 56, 38-47.

Pérez Riveros, O., Aitken, M. R. F., Zhukovsky, P., Soto, F. A., Urcelay, G. P., & Dickinson, A. (2016) Human instrumental performance in ratio and interval contingencies: a challenge for associative theory. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology. DOI: 10.1080/17470218.2016.1265996

Gillan, C. M., Urcelay, G. P., & Robbins, T. W. (2016). Associative theories of avoidance behaviour. In: The Wiley Blackwell Handbook on the Cognitive Neuroscience of Learning; Honey, R. and Murphy, R.A. (Eds.). Wiley and Sons.

Saund, J., Dautan, D., Rostron, C., Urcelay, G. P., & Gerdjikov, T. V. (2017) Thalamic inputs to dorsomedial striatum are involved in inhibitory control: evidence from the 5-choice serial reaction time task in rats. Psychopharmacology.

Urcelay, G. P. (2017) Competition and facilitation in compound conditioning. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Learning and Cognition.

Ferrer Monti, R. I., Alfei, J. M., Mugnaini, M., Bueno, A. M., Beckers, T., Urcelay, G. P. & Molina, V. A., (2017) A comparison of behavioural and pharmacological interventions to attenuate reactivated fear memories. Learning & Memory, 24 (8), 369-374.

Morein-Zamir, S., Shahper, S., Fineberg, N. A., Eisele, V., Eagle, D. M., Urcelay, G. P., Robbins, T. W. (in press) Free operant observing in humans: a translational approach to compulsive certainty seeking. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology

Urcelay, G. P., & Miller, R.R. (2017).  Retrieval from memory.  In Learning theory and behavior, R. Menzel, Ed. of Learning and memory - A comprehensive reference, J.H. Byrne, Ed-in-Chief.  Oxford, UK:

Research

I am interested in the environmental and neural basis of learning and memory in health and disease. We use relatively simple preparations in rats and humans to better understand the effects of different environmental variables, and then interrogate neural function.

Comparisons of theories of learning

A good amount of work has been aimed at contrasting theories of learning. This has been done by investigating different forms of conditioned inhibition (Urcelay & Miller, 2006b; 2008a; Urcelay et al., 2009), overshadowing (Urcelay & Miller, 2006a), blocking (Witnauer, Urcelay & Miller, 2008), latent inhibition (McConnell et al., 2009). Some of this work has implications for a comparative analysis of cognition (Urcelay & Miller, 2010b).

Roles of contexts

 Undoubtedly, contexts play a fundamental role in learning and performance, but different theories have assumed widely different roles for contextual information. We have identified one variable (the spacing of trials) which determines whether contextual stimuli act as discrete stimuli (and thus compete with target CSs) or as modulators (and thus facilitate retrieval of information – Urcelay & Miller, 2010a; Molet et al., 2010). This work was later applied to overtrained memories (Urcelay et al., 2012), and we have recently summarized this in a review (Urcelay & Miller, 2014).

Competition and facilitation in associative learning

While most theories of learning would anticipate that a salient event overshadows learning to a less salient stimulus, we have identified situations in which the opposite is true – adding a salient event potentiates learning about a weak stimulus (Urcelay & Miller, 2009; Sissons, Urcelay & Miller, 2009). The generality of these phenomena, plus underlying psychological principles are being investigated.

Reconsolidation and extinction

I have been interested in ways of making extinction more durable and less susceptible to recovery. Earlier work in rats and humans showed that the spacing of extinction trials (Urcelay, Wheeler & Miller, 2009; Orinstein, Urcelay & Miller, 2010) affects either within –session extinction or its recovery. Similarly, we have observed that extinguishing multiple stimuli together may reduce renewal, but there are constrains to this effect (Urcelay, Lipatova & Miller, 2009). Some of this work was summarised in Urcelay (2012).

More recently, these issues have been pursued in collaboration (Carranza-Jasso et al., 2014). In addition, we have investigated the boundaries of retrieval-extinction treatments (Piñeyro et al., 2014) and also investigated how different training conditions, plus the amount of post-training exposure to the CS, jointly determine the outcome observed after the administration of amnestics drugs (Alfei et al., 2015).

Avoidance learning

Work in collaboration with Cambridge has looked at avoidance learning in rats and humans. We have developed a free-operant avoidance task in rats that allowed to answer a number of different questions (Fernando et al., 2015). For example, “safety signals” (stimuli associated with successful avoidance) provide relief, in that they inhibit avoidance behaviour during its presentation, but reinforce it in the absence of these signals (Fernando et al., 2014c – see Fernando et al., 2014a for analysis of neural basis).

Using outcome revaluation techniques, Fernando observed bi-directional control of avoidance behaviour by shock or safety signal revaluation, and further investigated the neural basis (Fernando et al., 2014b). Work in humans using a shock avoidance task has revealed differences between OCD and control participants in the development of habits (Gillan et al., 2014). A follow up study replicated this effect and provided some evidence for neural correlates of these behavioural differences (Gillan et al., 2015; see Gillan, Urcelay & Robbins 2015 for an updated review on avoidance behaviour.)

Research group and funding

Behavioural Neuroscience

Spatial Learning and Cognition

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