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WIU Alumna/Researcher to Present "Adolescence Neurobehavioral Characteristics..." October 21

October 20, 2011

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MACOMB, IL – Linda Spear, distinguished professor of psychology at the Center for Development and Behavioral Neuroscience at Binghamton (NY) University, returns to her undergraduate alma mater Friday, Oct. 21 to talk about her research as part of the Western Illinois University psychology department colloquium series.

Spear's talk, titled "Adolescence: Neurobehavioral Characteristics, Differential Alcohol Sensitivities and Intake," is scheduled from 3-4 p.m. Friday in Waggoner Hall 054. The presentation is open free to the public.

Her research interests include the behavioral neuroscience and psychopharmacology of development, with a particular emphasis on neurobehavioral function during adolescence.

Recognized as one of the top neuroscience researchers worldwide, Spear currently is a member of the National Advisory Council for the National Institute for Alcohol and Alcohol Abuse (NIAAA) as well as a member of their External Advisory Board (EAB). She has served as president of a number of societies, including the International Behavioral Neuroscience Society, the International Society for Developmental Psychobiology and the Neurobehavioral Teratology Society. Spear also has served the National Institutes of Health (NIH) on grant review committees for the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), NIAAA and the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR). Additionally, she was a member of the NIDA External Advisory Board and the NIAAA Underage Drinking Steering Committee.

Spear received the 2005 Keller Award, an annual presentation by the NIAAA to "an outstanding alcohol researcher who has made significant and long-term contributions to the study of alcohol abuse and alcoholism."

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is using Spear's research to give middle-school children a science-based understanding on what can happen to them if they use alcohol, according to a feature about Spear on the Binghamton website ( She has found that adolescents are less sensitive to the physical effects of intoxication and the hangover that follows, and her continuing research looks at the impact of drugs on brain development and role of brain development in influencing drug responsiveness.

Spear, whose last name was Lanier as a WIU student (B.S. 1972, psychology), earned her Ph.D. in psychology at the University of Florida, where she also received postdoctoral training in neuroscience.

She has more than 200 publications. Her latest books and articles in professional journals include,"The Behavior Neuroscience of Adolescence," (2010) (New York: Norton); "Sensitivity to ethanol and other hedonic stimuli in an animal model of adolescence: Implications for prevention science?" with Varlinskay, E.I. (2010) Developmental Psychology, 52(3) 236-243; and "Motivational systems in adolescence: possible implications for age differences in substance abuse and other risk-taking behaviors," Doremus-Fitzwater, T.L., Varlinskay, E.I. and Spear, L.P. (2009) Behavioural Brain Research, 202, 122-129.

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