Mihaela D. Iordanova, PhD
Assistant Professor, Psychology
Learning & memory, prediction error, behavioral electrophysiology, dopamine, fear & reward
Overview: My research interests focus on understanding the behavioral and neural mechanisms that guide learning about the world around us. My work has sought to answer questions pertaining to two distinct yet integrative learning processes: What are the neural mechanisms that drive association formation between stimuli and in particular the establishment of predictive relationships as informed by error correcting mechanisms? A complementary question pertains to the nature of the representations that enter into associative relationships. Thus my second line of research is aimed at understanding how complex stimuli are represented in the brain and in particular how such stimuli can be updated and incorporated into new mnemonic events.
My approach to the study of brain and behavior is to combine well-controlled behavioral designs informed by formalized theories of learning and causal (disruptive, modulatory pharmacological and optogenetic methods) and correlational (cell recording) neuroscience techniques.
Iordanova, M. D., Deroche, M. L. D., Esber, G., Sadacca, B., Schoenbaum, G. (in preparation). The role of the central nucleus of the amygdala in two types of extinction.
Honey, R. C., Iordanova, M. D., & Good, M. (2014) Associative structures in animal learning: Dissociating elemental and configural processes. Neurobiology of Learning & Memory, 108, 96-103.
Schoenbaum, G., Esber, G.R., & Iordanova, M.D. (2013) Dopamine signals mimic reward prediction errors. Nature Neuroscience. 16(7), 777-779
Iordanova, M. D., Haralambous, T., McNally, G. P., & Westbrook, R. F. (2013) Accumbal opioid receptors modulate cue competition in one-trial overshadowing. Brain Research, 1517, 57-67.
Albasser M.M., Amin E,. Lin T.C., Iordanova M.D., Aggleton J.P. (2012) Evidence that the rat hippocampus has contrasting roles in object recognition memory and object recency memory. Behavioral Neuroscience, 126(5), 659-69.
Iordanova, M.D., & Honey, R.C. (2012). Generalization of contextual fear as a function of familiarity: The role of within- and between-context associations. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes, 38(3), 315-21.
Iordanova, M.D., Good, M., Honey, R.C. (2011) Retrieval-mediated learning involving episodes, but not their components, requires synaptic plasticity in the hippocampus. The Journal of Neuroscience, 31, 7156-62.
Albasser, M.M. Amin, E., Iordanova, M.D., Brown, M.W., Pearce, J.M., & Aggleton, J.P. (2011). Perirhinal cortex lesions uncover subsidiary systems in the rat for the detection of novel and familiar objects. European Journal of Neuroscience, 34(2), 331-42.
Albasser, M.M. Amin, E., Iordanova, M.D., Brown, M.W., Pearce, J.M., & Aggleton, J.P. (2011). Separate recognition memory systems for different senses: The multimodal contribution of the rat perirhinal cortex. Learning & Memory, 18, 435-43.
Iordanova, M.D., Burnett, D.J., Good, M., & Honey, R.C. (2011) The role of the hippocampus in elemental and configural processes during unsupervised learning procedures. Behavioral Neuroscience, 125(4), 567-77.
Albasser, M.M., Chapman, R.J., Amin, E., Iordanova, M.D., Vann, S.D., & Aggleton, J.P. (2010) Rodent object recognition memory and its neural basis: Testing for strain and species differences in the bow-tie maze. Learning & Memory, 17, 407-419.
Horne, M. R., Iordanova, M. D., & Pearce, J. M. (2010). Spatial learning based on boundaries in rats is hippocampus-dependent and prone to overshadowing. Behavioral Neuroscience. 24, 623-632.
Iordanova, M.D. (2010) Dopamine neurotransmission in the amygdala modulates surprise in an aversive blocking paradigm. Behavioral Neuroscience, 24, 780-788.
Dwyer, D. M., & Iordanova, M. D. (2010) The amygdala and flavour preference conditioning: evidence from crossed lesions and temporary inactivation. Physiology & Behavior, 101, 403-412.
Horne, M. R., Iordanova, M.D., Albasser, M., Aggleton, J. P., Honey, R.C., & Pearce, J.M. (2010) The impact of lesions of the perirhinal cortex on conditional spatial discriminations. Behavioral Neuroscience, 124, 311-320.
Iordanova, M.D. (2009) Dopaminergic modulation of appetitive and aversive predictive learning. Reviews in the Neurosciences, 20, 383-404.
Iordanova, M. D., Burnett, D.J., Aggleton, J.P., Good, M, & Honey, R.C. (2009) The role of the hippocampus in mnemonic integration and retrieval: Complementary evidence from lesion and inactivation studies. European Journal of Neuroscience, 30(11), 2177-89.
Iordanova, M. D., Good, M., & Honey, R. C. (2008). Configural learning without reinforcement: Integrated memories for what, where and when. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 61 (12), 1785 – 1792.
Iordanova, M. D., Killcross, A. S., & Honey, R. C. (2007). The role of the medial prefrontal cortex in acquired distinctiveness and equivalence of cues. Behavioral Neuroscience, 121(6), 1431-1436.
Moalem-Taylor, G., Allbutt, H. N., Iordanova, M. D., & Tracey, D. J. (2007). Pain hypersensitivity in rats with experimental autoimmune neuritis, an animal model of human inflammatory demyelinating neuropathy. Brain, Behavior and Immunity, 21(5), 699-710.
Iordanova, M. D., McNally, G. P., & Westbrook, R. F. (2006). Opioid receptors in the nucleus accumbens regulate attentional learning in the blocking paradigm. The Journal of Neuroscience, 26(15), 4036-45.
Iordanova M. D., Westbrook, R. F., & Killcross, A. S. (2006). Dopamine activity in the nucleus accumbens modulates blocking in fear conditioning. European Journal of Neuroscience, 24(11), 3265-3270.
Westbrook, R. F., Iordanova, M., McNally, G. P., Richardson, R., & Harris, J. A. (2002). Reinstatement of fear to an extinguished conditioned stimulus: two roles for context. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes, 28(1), 97-110.
Honey, R.C., Iordanova, M.D, & Good, M. (2009). Latent inhibition and habituation: evaluation of an associative analysis. pp163-182. In R.E. Lubow & I. Weiner (Eds.), Latent Inhibition: Cognition, Neuroscience and Applications to Schizophrenia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Mihaela Iordanova completed her undergraduate studies at the University of New South Wales where she was awarded a Bachelor’s degree with Honors in Psychology in 2001. She conducted her doctoral studies on the role of the accumbal opioid and dopamine transmission in error-correction in the fear setting at the same institution under the guidance of R. Frederick Westbrook. As part of her doctoral research Mihaela visited the laboratory of Simon Killcross at Cardiff University where she embarked on research examining the role of dopamine in predicting fear. Following completion of her PhD in 2006, Mihaela sought post-doctoral training back in the learning theory hub that is the School of Psychology at Cardiff University. There she worked with prominent scientists including Rob Honey and Mark Good on the neurocircuitry of mnemonic integration and updating, and forged strong collaborations with John Pearce, John Aggleton, and Dominic Dwyer. Her desire to study how the neurons change their pattern of firing as a result of environmental stimulation took her across the Atlantic to the laboratory of Geoffrey Schoenbaum. While holding appointments at University of Maryland and at the National Institute of Drug Abuse, she examined how cells in the central nucleus of the amygdala modulate their firing under conditions when fewer than expected rewards are delivered. Mihaela was awarded a prestigious Pathways to Independence (K99/R00) award from the National Institutes of Health to conduct this work. In 2014 Mihaela was appointed as an Assistant Professor at the Department of Psychology where she joins the Centre for Studies in Behavioral Neurobiology.