Bryan Devan




Contact Info

LA 2132


Ph.D., Experimental Psychology
& Behavioral Neuroscience,
McGill University

Areas of Expertise

Behavioral neuroscience


Comparative neurobiology

Multiple memory systems

Functions of parallel cortico-striatal circuits


Links to Research: Google Scholar, ResearchGate.

Dr. Devan's Research Activities in the Laboratory of Comparative Neuropsychology (LCN) involve the following:

• Spatial navigation in animals and humans

Virtual water maze was introduced in 1998, our lab takes a comparative neuropsychological approach - how different mammals, humans and rats, perform spatial tasks. Are the brain regions involved the same? Do different people with neuropsychological disorders or degenerative diseases use different strategies as appears to be the case with rats that have experimental lesions? Do “normal” individuals prefer different strategies, for example, reports of sex/gender differences related ego- versus allo-centric spatial cues and fast versus slow “place learners” ability to learn a new spatial layout passively (a room with a view), without active movement through the environment.

• Multiple memory systems

The original distinction was that the hippocampus contributes to cognitive-spatial memory formation (consolidating episodic memory) while the striatum contributes to simple stimulus-response (S-R) habit formation. We’ve investigated whether part of the striatum that receives limbic and prefrontal input also contributes to cognitive-spatial memory formation, possibly by forming higher-order [(S-S)-R] habits that originally are cognitive but become habit-like over time with repeated reinforcement.

• Models of neurodegenerative diseases (e.g., AD and PD)

Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease affect different memory systems (predominantly the hippocampus or striatum, respectively). Consequently, there is the opportunity to study patients using the virtual water maze to see if behavioral and strategic performance is similar to the many experimental lesion studies done with rodents.

• Neuropsychological disorders (e.g. dementia, OCD)

Modeling human disease and psychological disorders in rodents is important to test the efficacy of different treatments and other interventions. Scopolamine, a cholinergic antagonist impairs memory and models the cholinergic deficiency observed in AD patients. In the striatum, there is an intricate network of different neurochemical compartments that is poorly understood functionally but could be an important factor in pharma development to target subareas of the striatum. Preliminary evidence suggests that naloxone, a mu-opiate receptor antagonist, when injected directly into the striatum of awake animals may reduce their tendency to repeat checking behavior, i.e. returning to a previously learned goal location in the water maze.

• Psychopharmacology, cognitive enhancement and nutritional supplements

Current scientific findings suggest that diet may play an important role in whether a person develops neurodegenerative disease and cognitive decline as they get older. Pharmacological agents that potently stimulate NMDA receptors in brain, like D-cycloserine and D-serine, may offer a new target in drug therapy, while nutritional supplements like potent antioxidant superfruits and chemicals found in cocoa and wine, (e.g., procyanidin) that are cardioprotective, may provide opportunities to intervene early and avoid the development of dementia and disease late in life.

• Memory decline in aging and neuroprotection

Age-related memory decline is increasing in frequency as our life expectancy increases. There are various approaches to protecting neurons and glial cells chemically, whether invasively by systemic or direct intracerebral administration of an agent into the brain, or indirectly by external stimulation that affects the brains production or release of endogenous chemicals, e.g., enriching the environment or providing specific stimuli known to increase blood levels of hormones like testosterone, estrogen or oxytocin. These less invasive external provide natural changes in brain chemistry that should be further investigated and may have important therapeutic effects.


Selected Publications

Devan, B.D., Pistell, P.J., Duffy, K.A., Kelley-Bell, B., Spangler, E.L., & Ingram, D.K. (2014). Phosphodiesterase inhibition facilitates cognitive restoration in animal models of age-related memory decline. Neurorehabilitation, 34, 101-111.

Devan, B.D., Hong, N.S., McDonald, R.J. (2011). Parallel Associative Processing in the Dorsal Striatum: Segregation of Stimulus-Response and Cognitive Control Subregions. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, 96, 95-120.

Turchi, J., Devan, B., Pingbo, Y., Sigrist, E., & Mishkin, M. (2010). Pharmacological evidence that both cognitive memory and habit formation contribute to within-session learning of concurrent visual discriminations. Neuropsychologia, 48, 2245-2250.

Pistell, P.J., Nelson, C.M., Miller, M.G., Ingram, D.K, Devan, B.D. (2009). Striatal lesions interfere with acquisition of a complex maze task in rats. Behavioural Brain Research, 197(1):138-43.

Duffy, K.B., Spangler, E.L. Devan, B.D., Guo, Z.H., Bowker, J.L., Janas, A.M.. Hagepanos, A., Minor, R.K., de Cabo, R., Mouton, P.R., Shukitt-Hale, B., Joseph, J.A., Ingram, D.K. (2008) A blueberry-enriched diet provides cellular protection against oxidative stress and attenuates a kainate-induced learning impairment in rats. Neurobiology of Aging, 29(11):1680-9.

Pistell, P.J., Daffin Jr., L.W., Nelson, C.M., Duffy, K.B., Bowker, J.L., Spangler, E.L., Ingram, D.K., Devan, B.D. (2007). Combined administration of subthreshold doses of the nitric oxide inhibitor, nitro-L-arginine, and muscarinic receptor antagonist, scopolamine, impairs complex maze learning in rats. Behavioural Pharmacology, 18, 801-805.

Devan, B.D., Pistell, P.J., Daffin Jr., L.W., Nelson, C.M., Duffy, K.B., Bowker, J.L., Bharati, I.S., Sierra-Mercado Jr., D., Spangler, E.L., & Ingram, D.K. (2007). Sildenafil citrate attenuates a complex maze impairment induced by intracerebroventricular infusion of the NOS inhibitor Nω-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester. European Journal of Pharmacology, 563(1-3),134-140.

Devan, B.D., Bowker, J.L., Duffy, K.B., Bharati, I.S., Jimenez, M, Sierra-Mercado Jr., D., Nelson, C.M., Spangler, E.L., & Ingram, D.K. (2006). The phosphodiesterase inhibitor sildenafil citrate attenuates the learning impairment in rats induced by nitric oxide synthase inhibition, Psychopharmacology, 183, 439-445.

Devan, B.D., Bowker, J.L., Bharati, I.S., Duffy, K.B., Nelson, C.M., Daffin Jr., L.W., Spangler, E.L., & Ingram, D.K. (2005). Phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) inhibition and cognitive enhancement. Drugs of the Future, 30(7), 725-736.

Janas, A., Cunningham C. V., Duffy, K. B., Devan, B. D., Grieg N., Hollaway H., Yu Q-S., Markowska, A., Ingram D. K., & Spangler, E. L. (2005). The cholinesterase inhibitor, phenserine, improves Morris water maze performance of scopolamine-treated rats. Life Sciences, 76, 1073-1081.

Devan, B. D., Sierra-Mercado Jr., D., Jimenez, M., Bowker, J. L., Duffy, K. B., Spangler, E. L., & Ingram, D. K. (2004). Phosphodiesterase inhibition by sildenafil citrate attenuates the learning impairment induced by blockade of cholinergic muscarinic receptors in rats. Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior, 79, 691-699.

McDonald, R. J., Hong, N. S., & Devan, B. D. (2004). The challenges of understanding mammalian cognition and memory-based behaviors: An interactive learning and memory systems approach. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 28, 719-745.

McDonald, R. J., Devan, B. D., & Hong, N. S. (2004). Multiple memory systems: The power of interactions. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, 82, 333-346.

Stouffer, E. M., Petri, H. L., & Devan, B. D. (2004). Effect of D-serine on delayed match-to-place task for the water maze. Behavioural Brain Research, 152, 447-452.

Devan, B. D.,Stouffer, E. M., Petri, H. L., McDonald, R. J., & Olds, J. L. (2003). Partial reinforcement across trials impairs escape performance but spares place learning in the water maze. Behavioural Brain Research, 141, 91-104.

Devan, B. D., Petri, H. L., Mishkin, M., Stouffer, E. M., Bowker, J. L., Yin, P. B., Buffalari, D. M., & Olds, J. L. (2002). A room with a view and a polarizing cue: Individual differences in the stimulus control of place navigation and passive latent learning in the water maze. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, 78, 79-99.

Devan, B. D.,& McDonald, R. J. (2001). A cautionary note on interpreting the effects of partial reinforcement on place learning performance in the water maze. Behavioural Brain Research, 119, 213-216.

Devan, B. D.,Goad, E. H., Petri, H. L., Antoniadis, E. A., Hong, N. S., Ko, C. L., Leblanc, L., Lebovic, S. S., Lo, Q., Ralph, M. L., & McDonald, R. J. (2001). Circadian phase-shifted rats show normal acquisition but impaired long term retention of place memory in the water task. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, 75, 51-62.

Devan, B. D., & White, N. M. (1999). Parallel information processing in the dorsal striatum: Relation to hippocampal function. Journal of Neuroscience, 19, 2789-2798.

Devan, B. D., McDonald, R. J., & White, N. M. (1999). Effects of medial and lateral caudate-putamen lesions on place- and cue-guided behaviors in the water maze: Relation to thigmotaxis. Behavioural Brain Research, 100, 5-14.

Devan, B. D., Goad, E. H., & Petri, H. L. (1996). Dissociation of hippocampal and striatal contributions to spatial navigation in the water maze. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, 66, 305-323.

Devan, B. D., Blank, G. S., & Petri, H. L. (1992). Place navigation in the Morris water task: Effects of reduced platform interval lighting and pseudorandom platform positioning. Psychobiology, 20, 120-126.

Figler, M. H., Weinstein, A. R., Sollers, J. J., Devan, B. D. (1992). Pleasure travel (tourist) motivation: A factor analytic approach. Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society, 30, 113-116.

Courses Taught

  • PSYC 314: Research Methods
  • PSYC 465: Physiological Psychology