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Brian Trainor


  • Ph.D., Psychology, University of Wisconsin at Madison, 2003
  • M.S., Biology, University of Nebraska at Lincoln, 1998
  • B.S., Biology, University of Texas at Austin, 1996


In addition to his academic appointment in the Department of Psychology, Brian Trainor is an affiliated faculty member with the UC Davis Center for Neuroscience.   He is also director of the Behavioral Neuroendocrinology Lab at UC Davis. Professor Trainor is a member of several professional organizations, including the Society for Behavioral Neuroendocrinology, the Society for Neuroscience and the Society for Biological Psychiatry. He is also an editorial board member for the journal Hormones and Behavior.

Research Focus

Mood and anxiety disorders are more likely to occur in women, yet most mouse models focus on males. Using the monogamous California mouse, Professor Trainor studies the effects of stress on the brain and behavior. One line of research investigates how oxytocin acts in different brain regions to regulate social approach and social vigilance, a behavior related to social anxiety. A second line of research investigates how adolescent development programs neural mechanisms of behavior related to anxiety.

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 avoidance. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences U.S.A., 117, 26406-26413.

Williams, A. V., Duque-Wilckens, N. Ramos-Maciel, S., Campi, K. L., Bhela, S., Xu, C. K. Jackson, K., Chini, B. Pesavento, P. A. & Trainor, B. C. 2020. Social approach and social vigilance are differentially regulated by oxytocin receptors in the nucleus accumbens. Neuropsychopharmacology, 45, 1423-1430.

Wright, E. C., Hostinar, C. A. & Trainor, B. C. 2020. Anxious to see you: Neuroendocrine mechanisms of social vigilance and anxiety during adolescence. European Journal of Neuroscience, 52, 2516-2529.

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, 15-26.

Duque-Wilckens, N., Steinman, M. Q., Busnelli, M, Chini, B., Yokoyama, S., Pham, M., Laredo, S. A. Hao, R., 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 Psychiatry, 83, 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 (cover image).


Professor Trainor teaches courses in Introduction to Biological Psychology, Behavioral Genetics, Behavioral Genetics and Epigenetics, and Hormones and Behavior.


Professor Trainor has won a number of awards, including the 2010 Frank Beach Young Investigator Award in Behavioral Neuroendocrinology. He was also selected as a UC Davis Hellman Fellow in 2009.