COVID-19: Essential Information

Mark Spritzer

Associate Professor of Biology

 work(802) 443-5676
 Mon 8:30-10:30; Fri 2:00-3:00
 McCardell Bicen Hall 344

I am broadly interested in both how selective pressures have shaped behavioral traits and the underlying physiological mechanisms that lead to individual differences in behavior.

My research is in the area of behavioral neuroendocrinology, which means that I study how hormones influence brain function and behavior.  In collaborative experiments with students, we test the effects of hormones and growth factors on spatial cognition and adult neurogenesis using rodent species as model systems.  The main applied component of my research involves developing therapies to treat age-related memory loss.  We have shown that testosterone can enhance adult neurogenesis within the hippocampus region of the brain among adult male rats, and we are exploring which specific stages of neurogenesis are most impacted by testosterone and its metabolites.  We have also shown that specific doses of testosterone can improve spatial memory, and we are currently testing the physiological mechanism underlying these dose-dependent effects.  We have been particularly interested in the role of testosterone in regulating growth factors and cell death pathways.  In another line of research, we are testing the effects of a growth factor mimetic using a transgenic mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease.  Finally, we are also examining levels of hippocampal neurogenesis and cell death in wild populations of meadow voles.  The goal of this work is to develop insights regarding the functioning of cell turn-over within hippocampus of free-ranging animals.  Students working in my laboratory gain practical experience conducting research projects involving a wide range of techniques: behavioral testing, surgical techniques, immunohistochemistry, hormone assays, and microscopy. The courses that I teach involve hands-on laboratory exercises and a variety of discussion and lecture approaches to explore the biological complexity of animals: Animal Physiology, Comparative Vertebrate Biology, Endocrinology, and Animal Behavior.

Lab Website

Google Scholar profile


Selected Publications

 *denotes student members of Spritzer lab

Zhang K.J.*, R.A. Ramdev*, N.J. Tuta*, M.D. Spritzer.  2020. Dose-dependent effects of testosterone on spatial learning strategies and brain-derived neurotrophic factor in male rats. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 121, 104850.

Jaeger, E.C.B.*, L.E. Miller*, E.C. Goins*, C.E. Super*, C.U. Chyr*, J.W. Lower*, L.S. Honican*, D.E. Morrison*, R.A. Ramdev*, and M.D. Spritzer. 2020. Testosterone replacement causes dose-dependent improvements in spatial memory among aged male rats.  Psychoneuroendocrinology, 113: 104550. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2019.104550.

Wagner, B.A.*, V.C. Braddick*, C.G. Batson*, B.H. Cullen*, L.E. Miller*, M.D. Spritzer. 2018. Effects of testosterone dose on spatial memory among castrated adult male rats. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 89: 120–130, doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2017.12.025.

Spritzer, M.D., A.W. Panning*, S.M. Engelman*, W.T. Prince*, A.E. Casler*, J.E. Georgakas*, E.C.B. Jaeger*, L.R. Nelson*, E.A. Roy*, and B.A. Wagner*. 2017. Seasonal and sex differences in cell proliferation, neurogenesis, and cell death within the dentate gyrus of adult wild-caught meadow voles. Neuroscience, 360: 155-165, doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2017.07.046

Spritzer, M.D., M.G. Curtis*, J.P. DeLoach*, J. Maher*, and L.M. Shulman*. 2016. Sexual interactions with unfamiliar females reduce hippocampal neurogenesis among adult male rats. Neuroscience, 318: 143-156, doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2016.01.015.

Shulman, L.M.*, M.D. Spritzer. 2014. Changes in the sexual behavior and testosterone levels of male rats in response to daily interactions with estrus females. Physiology and Behavior, 133: 8-13, doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2014.05.001.

Spritzer, M.D., E.D. Fox*, G.E Larson*, C. Batson*, B. Wagner*, J.E. Maher*. 2013. Testosterone influences spatial strategy preferences among adult male rats. Hormones and Behavior, 63: 800-812, doi: 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2013.03.018.

Spritzer, M.D., E. Ibler*, W. Inglis*, and M.G. Curtis*. 2011. Testosterone and social isolation influence adult neurogenesis in the dentate gyrus of male rats. Neuroscience, 195: 180-190, doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2011.08.034.

Department of Biology

McCardell Bicentennial Hall
276 Bicentennial Way
Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT 05753