Darragh P. Devine, Ph.D.

Professor and Director
Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience

Departments of Psychology
& Neuroscience
University of Florida

P.O. Box 112250

Gainesville, FL 32611-2250

Please note new office and lab phone numbers
office 352-273-2174

fax 352-392-7985


photo of lab group
The Devine Lab Group: (from left to right) Nathan Weinstock, M.S.; Xiaomeng Yuan, M.S.; Darragh Devine, Ph.D.; William Lin, M.S.; Sergei Zolotukhin, Ph.D.; Michael La Sala, B.S.; Stacey Reynolds, Ph.D.; Karly Lorbeer; Alex Millette; missing Amber Van Matre (nee Muehlmann), M.S. and Catherine Marcinkiewcz, M.S.

Click on these links to navigate through my web site:  

1. Research Statement
4. Teaching
2. Educational Background
5. Links to Related Sites
3. Recent Publications
6. Laboratory Photo Gallery

Darragh P. Devine, Ph.D.

Dr. Devine is the Director of the Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience program, and Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychobiology from Concordia University (Montreal, Canada) in 1982, a Master's degree in Psychology from Carleton University (Ottawa, Canada) in 1988, and a doctoral degree from the Center for Studies in Behavioral Neurobiology of Concordia University in 1993.  He did a post-doctoral fellowship in the Mental Health Research Institute at the University of Michigan, and then joined the faculty of the University of Florida, Department of Psychology in 1998.  His research on the neurobiology of stress and self-injurious behavior has earned funding from the National Institute on Child Health and Human Development, the National Science Foundation, the National Alliance for Autism Research, the Cure Autism Now Foundation/Autism Speaks,  the Congressionally-Directed Medical Research Programs, and others.

Dr. Devine has been recognized twice as Teacher of the Year for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (2003 and 2012), and as HHMI Distinguished Mentor (2012).  He has also been recognized as a "You Made a Difference" Professor (2001) and as the Colonel Allen R. and Margaret G. Crow Term Professor (2010-2011).  In addition, Dr. Devine was a recipient of the Governor General of Canada's Gold Medal.

Research Statement:

NEUROBIOLOGY OF SELF-INJURIOUS BEHAVIOUR: Self-injurious behaviour is arguably the most debilitating of all the pathological characteristics that are observed in patients with neurodevelopmental disorders. Typically, afflicted patients exhibit head-banging, self-biting, and/or self-punching behaviours. These behaviours carry the risk of extreme physical harm, and they interfere with all normal functions of daily living, including educational and socializing activities. In addition, self-injury is destructive for families of afflicted patients, and the cost of specialized care is over $3 billion annually in the United States. Self-injurious behaviour is particularly prevalent in autism spectrum disorders, Lesch-Nyhan syndrome, Prader-Willi syndrome, and other genetically-determined disorders. However, the incidence and severity is highly variable within most of these diagnostic groups

investigations of self-injury focus upon psychosocial aspects of the behavior disorder (e.g. functional analysis and intervention to address reinforcing social interactions that maintain these behaviors). This approach has yielded treatment programs that are partially effective for many patients, and behavior therapy is clearly the treatment of choice. However, social reinforcement does not contribute to the maintenance of SIB in over 30% of cases, and many self-injurers (e.g. Lesch-Nyhan syndrome) are particularly resistant to behavioral interventions.  

We have focused our research efforts upon identification of
neuropathological variables that may underlie shared vulnerability for etiology of self-injury across neurodevelopmental disorders. One important clue is that self-injurious behaviour is highly prevalent in genetic disorders where ongoing distress, pathological irritability, and abnormal physiological stress responses are prominent features. Additional clues come from clinical trials of pharmacological interventions, from-post mortem neurochemical analyses, and from studies in animal models. The convergent evidence from these three lines of research indicates that dopaminergic insufficiency is a common element in vulnerability for self-injury. A prevailing (and decades old) interpretation is that the dopaminergic deficits cause postsynaptic supersensitivity. However, biochemical investigations of this putative supersensitivity are lacking. Therefore, our understanding of the biological basis of self-injurious behaviour lags far behind our understanding of virtually every other major neuropsychiatric dysfunction.

We are studying the neurobiological basis of vulnerability for self-injury in an animal model. In our model, rats exhibit self-biting behaviour after 4-5 days of treatment with pemoline (a monoamine uptake blocker). We have refined the model, improved behavioral measures, and identified multiple lines of congruence between clinical and pemoline-induced self-injury. Most importantly, individual rats differ in vulnerability, and this is based upon innate stress-responsive phenotypes. In addition, dopamine stores are depleted during the induction of self-injurious behaviour, and exposure to stress exacerbates the symptoms of self-injury. All these characteristics are redolent of findings in human self-injurers. We are currently investigating biochemical measures of neuronal sensitivity that may differentiate vulnerable from resistant rats in the pemoline model. These studies will promote our understanding of the brain mechanisms that underlie the etiology of this devastating behavioural pathology.

TRAINING OPPORTUNITIES:  Students in my laboratory have extensive opportunities to participate in the ongoing research program.  They routinely learn and practice state-of-the-art methods in analysis of pharmacologically-induced and environmentally-induced alterations in behaviour.  This is combined with assays of concomitant changes in neurochemistry, hormonal responses, and gene regulation.  A major goal of training in my laboratory is to foster critical thinking as it relates to important issues in behavioural and molecular neuroscience.

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Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship
University of Michigan, School of Medicine
Department of Psychiatry
Mental Health Research Institute
Ann Arbor, Michigan,
supervisors: Huda Akil, Ph.D. & Stanley J. Watson, M.D., Ph.D.
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), Psychology
Concordia University
Center for Studies in Behavioral Neurobiology
Montréal, Québec, Canada
thesis advisor: Roy A. Wise, Ph.D.

Master of Arts (M.A.), Psychology
Carleton University
Department of Psychology
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
thesis advisor: Nicholas P. Spanos, Ph.D.

Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.), Psychobiology
Concordia University
Department of Psychology
Montréal, Québec, Canada

Diplôme d'études collégiales (D.E.C.), Social Sciences
Dawson College C.E.G.E.P.
(college de l'enseignment general et professionnel)
Montréal, Québec, Canada

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Representative Publications (selected from a list of 48)

Devine, D.P. (2014). Self-injurious behavior in autistic children: a neurodevelopmental theory of social and environmental isolation, Psychopharmacology, 231: 979-997.  PMID:24057764

Richardson, C.M.E., Rice, K.G., and Devine, D.P. (2014). Perfectionism, emotion regulation, and the physiological stress response, Journal of Counseling Psychology, 61: 110-118.  PMID:240040777

Reynolds, S., Urruela. M., and Devine, D.P. (2013). Effects of Environmental Enrichment on Repetitive Behaviors in the BTBR T+tf/J Mouse Model of Autism, Autism Research, 6: 258-267.  PMID:23813950

Devine, D.P. and Symons, F.J. (2013). Biological vulnerability and risk for self-injury in Intellectual and Developmental Disorders, International Review of Research in Developmental Disabilities, 44: 37-67.

Reynolds, S., Millette, A., and Devine, D.P. (2012). Sensory and motor characterization in the post-natal valproate rat model of autism, Developmental Neuroscience, 34: 258-267.  PMID:22627078

Symons, F.J., Devine, D.P., and Oliver, C. (2012). Self-injurious behaviour in people with intellectual disability, Journal of Intellectual Disabilities Research, 56: 421-426.  PMID:22487005

Muehlmann, A.M., Kies, S.D., Turner, C.A., Wolfman, S., Lewis, M.H., and Devine, D.P. (2012). Self-injurious behavior: Limbic disregulation and stress effects in an animal model, Journal of Intellectual Disabilities Research. 56: 490- 500.  PMID:21988194

Devine, D.P. (2012). Animal models of self-injurious behaviour: an overview, Psychiatric Disorders, Methods in Molecular Biology, 829: 68-85.  PMID: 2223812

Devine, D.P. (2012). The pemoline model of self-injurious behaviour, Psychiatric Disorders, Methods in Molecular Biology, 829: 153-170.  PMID: 22231807

Muehlmann, A.M., Wilkinson, J.A., and Devine, D.P. (2011). Individual differences in vulnerability for self-injurious behavior: Studies using an animal model, Behavioural Brain Research. 217: 148-154.  PMID: 20974187

Green, M. K. and Devine, D. P. (2009). Nociceptin/Orphanin FQ and NOP receptor gene regulation after single or repeated social defeat exposure, Neuropeptides, 43: 507-514.  PMID: 19720395

Devine, D. P. and Muehlmann, A. M. (2009). Tiermodelle für selbstverletzendes Verhalten (Animal models of self-injurious behaviour), In: Selbstverletzendes Verhalten bei stressassoziierten Erkrankungen (Self-Injurious Behaviour in Stress-Associated Disorders), C. Schmahl and C. Stiglmayr (Eds.), pp 39-60, Verlag W. Kohlhammer, Stuttgart.

Muehlmann, A.M. and Devine, D.P. (2008). Glutamate-mediated neuroplasticity in an animal model of self-injurious behaviour, Behavioural Brain Research, 189: 32-40.  PMID: 18243356

Muehlmann, A.M., Brown, B.D. and Devine, D.P. (2008). Pemoline-induced self-injurious behavior: a rodent model of pharmacotherapeutic efficacy, Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics. 324: 214-223.  PMID: 17925479

Green, M.K., Barbieri, E.V., Brown, B.D., Chen, K.-W., and Devine, D. P. (2007). Roles of the bed nucleus of stria terminalis and of the amygdala in N/OFQ-mediated anxiety and HPA axis activation, Neuropeptides, 41:.399-410.  PMID: 17980908

Blake, B. L., Muehlmann, A. M., Egami, K., Breese, G. R., Devine, D. P., and Jinnah, H. A. (2007). Nifedipine suppresses self-injurious behaviors in animals, Developmental Neuroscience, 29: 241-250.  PMID: 17047321

Kies, S. D. and Devine, D. P. (2004). Self-injurious behaviour: a comparison of caffeine and pemoline models in rats, Pharmacology Biochemistry & Behavior, 79: 587-598.  PMID: 15582667

Fernandez, F., Misilmeri, M. A., Felger, J. C., and Devine, D. P. (2004). Nociceptin/Orphanin FQ increases anxiety-related behaviour and circulating levels of corticosterone during neophobic tests of anxiety, Neuropsychopharmacology, 29: 59-71.  PMID: 14532912

Devine, D. P., Watson, S. J., Jr. and Akil, H. (2001). Nociceptin/orphanin FQ regulates neuroendocrine function of the limbic-hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, Neuroscience. 102: 541-553.  PMID: 11226692

Kabbaj, M., Devine, D. P., Savage, V., and Akil, H. (2000). Neurobiological correlates of individual differences in novelty-seeking behavior in the rat: differential expression of stress-related molecules, Journal of Neuroscience. 20: 6983-6988.  PMID: 10995843

Akil, H., Meng, F., Devine, D. P. and Watson, S. J. (1997). Molecular and neuroanatomical properties of the endogenous opioid system: implications for treatment of opiate addiction, In: Seminars in Neuroscience - Strategies for the Treatment of Opiate Abuse, L. L. Iversen and B. H. Herman (Eds.), vol. 9, pp. 70‑83 Academic Press, New York.

Devine, D. P., Taylor, L., Reinscheid, R. K., Monsma, F. J., Jr., Civelli, O. and Akil, H. (1996). Rats rapidly develop tolerance to the locomotor‑inhibiting effects of the novel neuropeptide orphanin FQ, Neurochemical Research. 21: 1387‑1396.  PMID: 8947929

Devine, D. P. and Wise, R. A. (1994). Self-administration of morphine, DAMGO, and DPDPE into the ventral tegmental area of rats, Journal of Neuroscience. 14: 1978‑1984.  PMID: 8158252

Devine, D. P., Leone, P., Pocock, D. and Wise, R. A. (1993). Differential involvement of ventral tegmental area mu, delta and kappa opioid receptors in modulation of basal mesolimbic dopamine release: In vivo microdialysis studies, Journal of Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics. 266: 1236‑1246.  PMID: 7690399

Devine, D. P., Leone, P. and Wise, R. A. (1993). Striatal tissue preparation facilitates early sampling in microdialysis and reveals an index of neuronal damage, Journal of Neurochemistry. 61: 1246‑1254.  PMID: 7690846

Current Lab Group

Current Post-Docs / Visiting Research Associates
Sergei Zolotukhin, Ph.D. szlt@ufl.edu Associate Professor, K-18, Dept. of Pediatrics, Cellular and Molecular Therapy, University of Florida
Stacey Reynolds, Ph.D. reynoldsse3@phhp.ufl.edu Assistant Professor, K-12 Scholar, College of Public Health and Health Professions at University of Florida, and Dept. of Occupational Therapy at Virginia Commonwealth University
Current Graduate Students
Amber Van Matre (nee Muehlmann), M.S. muehlman@ufl.edu Behav. and Cog. Neuroscience, Doctoral Candidate
Nathan Weinstock, M.S. natejw@ufl.edu Behav. and Cog. Neuroscience, Doctoral Candidate
Catherine Marcinkiewcz, M.S. saffron@ufl.edu Interdisc. Studies Program (IDP) Neuroscience, Doctoral Candidate
William Lin, B.S. wlin@ufl.edu Behav. and Cog. Neuroscience, Master's Candidate
Xiaomeng Yuan, B.S. verabbit@ufl.edu Behav. and Cog. Neuroscience, Master's Candidate
Michael LaSala mlasala@ufl.edu Interdisc. Studies Program (IDP) Neuroscience, Lab Rotation
Current Undergraduate Students
Karly Lorbeer klorbeer@ufl.edu
Alexandre Millette milette1991@hotmail.com


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The courses I teach:

Physiological Psychology PSB 3002
Behavioral Neuroscience PSB 3340
Behavioral Neuroendocrinology PSB 4934
Neurobiology of Developmental Disorders PSB 4934
Neurobiology of Learning and Memory PSB 4810
Behavioral & Cognitive Neuroscience I PSB 6087
Behavioral & Cognitive Neuroscience II PSB 6088
Graduate Proseminar in Behavioral Neuroscience  
PSB 6099
Molecular Neurobiology PSB 6930
Mechanisms of Neuroplasticity PSB 7248
Behavioral Neurobiology of Stress and
Stress-Related Psychopathology
PSB 7249

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Related links:
Resources Professional Associations Government Agencies Online Journals
Terminology in Neuroscience American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) National Clearing House for Alcohol & Drug Information (NCADI)  UF E-jounals
Brain Facts & Figures American Medical Association (AMA) National Institutes of Health (NIH)
National Center for Biotechnology Information American Psychiatric Association (APA) National Science Foundation (NSF)
History of Neuroscience American Psychological Association (APA) World Health Organization
Human Genome Project Canadian Psychological Association (CPA)

National Library of Medicine International Brain Research Organization (IBRO)

Primate Brain Atlas National Academy of Science

Pubmed New York Academy of Sciences (NYAS)

Society for Neuroscience Membership Directory Society for Neuroscience (SFN)

University of Florida links:  
University of Florida UF Department of Psychology UF Brain Institute
IDS Neuroscience major HHMI - Science for Life

Fun links:  
Gainesville Soccer Gainesville Area Rowing

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