Brian Trainor

Brian Trainor

Position Title

  • Department of Psychology, College of Letters and Science
102G Young Hall

Profile Introduction

We bring an ethological perspective to studying social behaviors and their underlying neural mechanisms. A new focus is social vigilance, which occurs when mice avoid yet orient towards unfamilar social contexts. Understanding the mechanisms of social vigilance could have translational relevance because vigilance is a key component of behavioral inhibition. Behavioral inhibition is a major risk factor for the development of anxiety disorders.
We study monogamous California mice to investigate how social stress impacts neural circuits of social vigilance in males and females. We are also beginning to study how adolescent development impacts this circuitry. The longer lifespan of California mice is characterized by a comparatively extended period of adolescent development compared to conventional laboratory rodent species.

Research Interests

-Effects of stress on anxiety-related behaviors

-Sex differences in behavior and brain function

-Adolescent Development

Grad Group Affiliations

  • Animal Behavior
  • Neuroscience
  • Psychology

Specialties / Focus

  • Behavioral Physiology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Endocrinology
  • Physiology and Behavior


  • PSC 251 Genetic Correlates of Behavior, Winter
  • PSC 101 Introduction to Biological Psychology
  • PSC 125 Behavioral Genetics and Epigenetics
  • PSC 190 Neurobiology of Stress



Honors and Awards

  • Frank Beach Young Investigator Award 2010

    Professional Societies

    • Society for Behavioral Neuroendocrinology
    • Society for Neuroscience
    • Society for Biological Psychiatry


    • 2003 PhD Psychology University of Wisconsin
    • 1998 MS Biological Sciences University of Nebraska
    • 1996 BS Biology University of Texas

    Selected Publications


    Duque-Wilckens, N., Torres, L. Y., Yokoyama, S., Minie, V., Tran, A. M., Petkova, S. P., Hao, R., Ramos-Maciel, S. Rios, R. A., Jackson, K., Flores-Ramirez, F. J., Garcia-Carachure, I., Pesavento, P. A., Iñiguez, S. A., Grinevich, V. J. & Trainor, B. C. 2020. Extra-hypothalamic oxytocin neurons drive stress-induced social vigilance and avoidanceProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences U.S.A. 117, 26406-26413.

    -Steinman, M. Q., Duque-Wilckens, N & Trainor, B. C. 2019. Complementary neural circuits for divergent effects of oxytocin: social approach versus social anxiety.  Biological Psychiatry. 85, 792-801.

    -Duque-Wilckens, N., Steinman, M. Q., Busnelli, M, Chini, B., Yokoyama, S., Pham, M., Laredo, S. A.,R. Hao, Perkeybile, A. M., Minie, V. A., Tan, P. B.. Bales, K. L. and Trainor, B. C. 2018. Oxytocin receptors in the anteromedial bed nucleus of the stria terminalis promote stress-induced social avoidance in females. Biological Psychiatry80, 203-213. (Priority communication). 

    -Steinman, M. Q., Duque-Wilckens, N., Greenberg, G. D., Hao, R. Campi, K. L., Laredo, S. A., Laman-Maharg, A., Manning, C. E., Doig, I. E., Lopez, E. M., Walch, K., Bales, K. L. and Trainor, B. C. 2016.  Sex-specific effects of stress on oxytocin neurons correspond with responses to intranasal oxytocin. Biological Psychiatry, 80, 406-414.  

    -Laredo, S. A., Steinman, M. Q., Robles, C. F., Ferrer, E. & Trainor, B. C.  2015.  Effects of defeat stress on behavioral flexibility in males and females: modulation by the mu-opioid receptor. European Journal of Neuroscience41, 434-441.

    -Greenberg, G. D., Laman-Maharg, A., Campi, K. L., Voigt, H., Orr, V. N., Schaal, L. & Trainor, B. C. 2014. Sex differences in stress-induced social withdrawal: role of brain derived neurotrophic factor in the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 7, 223.

    -Trainor, B. C., Pride, M. C., Villalon Landeros, R., Knoblauch, N.W., Takahashi, E. Y., Silva, A. S. and Crean, K. K. 2011. Sex differences  in social interaction behavior following social defeat stress in the monogamous California mouse (Peromyscus californicus). PLoS One, 6: e17405.


    Full publication list