Sharon C. Furtak, Ph.D.

  • Contact Information

  • Title: Assistant Professor
  • Office Location: Amador, rm 357A
  • Office Hours: Fall 2014: Wed 10am to noon and Thursdays by appointment only
  • E-mail: furtak@csus.edu
  • Office Phone: (916) 278-6666
  • Mailing Address: Sacramento State 6000 J Street Sacramento, CA 95819-6007
  • Department of Psychology: Amador Hall

Education

  • Dec. 2006         Ph.D., Behavioral Neuroscience, Yale University, New Haven, CT
  • Dec. 2004         M. Phil., Behavioral Neuroscience, Yale University, New Haven, CT
  • Dec. 2003         M.S., Behavioral Neuroscience, Yale University, New Haven, CT     
  • May 1999          B.A., Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA

Courses that I teach

Research Interests

Every day we form countless new associations among objects and contexts.  When these associations carry emotional valence, such as in Pavlovian fear conditioning, learning is rapid and persistent. In humans, the persistence of an emotional memory can become maladaptive and debilitating, leading to the development of anxiety disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder and phobias. My long-term research plan consists of three goals.  First, I aim to understand how we learn to fear complex objects and contexts, as well as how we learn no longer to fear that stimulus when it is no longer a threat to us. Second, I aim to explore the neurocircuitry that contribute to emotional memory, especially in the contextual modulation of emotional memory.  Third, I aim to understand how these processes translate from rodent to human models of emotional learning and memory.

Thus far, my research experience has addressed questions, such as these, using a multi-level approach of translational neuroscience, from molecular properties of the rodent brain to neuroimaging in healthy and patient human populations.  Moving forward, my research strategy is to incorporate multiple disciplines, including: behavioral neuroscience, molecular biology, cognitive neuroscience, clinical psychology and learning theory. This multi-dimensional approach encourages the development of scientific questioning and logical reasoning skills for hypothesis-driven inquiry while utilizing a broad range of techniques.

Peer-Reviewed Publications

Furtak S.C.(2013) Neurons. In Diener E. & Biswas-Diener R. (Eds), Noba textbook series: Psychology.  Champaign, IL: DEF Publishers. DOI:www.nobaproject.com

Milad M.R., Furtak S.C., Greenberg J., Diniz J.B., Falkenstein M., Rauch S., and Wilhelm S. (2013) Deficits in conditioned fear extinction in obsessive-compulsive disorder correlate to neurobiological changes in the fear circuit. JAMA Psychiatry. 

Furtak S.C., Ahmed O.J., Burwell R.D. (2012) Single neuron activity and theta modulation in postrhinal cortex during visual discriminations. Neuron 76(5): 976-988.

Linnman C., Zeidan M.A., Furtak S.C., Pitman R.K., Quirk G.J., and Milad M.R. (2012) Resting amygdala and medial prefrontal metabolism predicts functional activation of the fear extinction circuit. Am J Psychiatry 169: 415-423.

Moyer Jr. J.R., Furtak S.C., McGann J.P., and Brown T.H. (2011) Aging-related changes in calcium binding proteins in rat perirhinal cortex.  Neurobiol Aging 32(9):1693-1706.

Furtak S.C., Cho C.C., Kerr K.M., Barredo J.L., Alleyne J.E., Patterson Y.R., and Burwell R.D. (2009) The Floor Projection Maze: A novel behavioral apparatus for presenting visual stimuli to rats. J Neurosci Methods 181: 82-88.

Furtak S.C., Wei S-M, Agster K.L., and Burwell R.D. (2007) Functional neuroanatomy of the parahippocampal region in the rat: The perirhinal and postrhinal cortices. Hippocampus 17 (9): 709-722.

Kerr K.M., Agster K.L., Furtak S.C., and Burwell R.D. (2007) Functional neuroanatomy of the parahippocampal region:  The lateral and medial entorhinal areas. Hippocampus 17 (9): 697-708.

Furtak S.C., Allen T.A., and Brown T.H. (2007) Single-unit firing in rat perirhinal cortex caused by fear conditioning to arbitrary and ecological stimuli. J Neurosci. 27(45):12277-12291.

Furtak S.C., Moyer J.R., Jr., and Brown T.H. (2007) Morphology and ontogeny of rat perirhinal cortical neurons. J Comp Neurol.505 (5):493-510.

Allen T.A., Furtak S.C., and Brown T.H. (2007) Single-unit responses to 22 kHz ultrasonic vocalizations in rat perirhinal cortex. Behav Brain Res 182 (2): 327-336. 

Selected Recent Abstracts

Mootz J.R., Calub C.A., Beckner A.G., Ruiz S., and Furtak S.C. (2014) Perirhinal cortex involvement in delay fear conditioning to a discontinuous light stimulus. Society for Neuroscience Abstracts, 39. Poster Session.

Mootz J.R., Ruiz S., and Furtak S.C.  (2014)  Medial temporal lobe involvement in fear conditioning to a complex stimulus.  Western Psychology Association Annual Conference.  Portland, OR. Poster Session.

Calub C.A., Brown T.H. and Furtak S.C. (2014)  Fear to conspecific 22 kHz “alarm cries” in rodents is based on prior experience. Sacramento State Student Research Symposium. Sacramento, CA. Poster Session. Student Winner of Provost’s Award for Research Excellence.

Mootz J.R., Ruiz S., and Furtak S.C.  (2013)  Medial temporal lobe involvement in fear conditioning to a complex stimulus.  Annual Psychology Research Conference at CSUS. Sacramento, CA. Poster Session.

Furtak S.C., Parsana A., and Brown T.H. (2013) Novel neurophysiological changes in lateral amygdala caused by fear conditioning. Society for Neuroscience Abstracts, 38.  Poster Session.

Boratyn D.A., Furtak S.C., Setsompop K., Raij T., and Milad M.R. (2012) TMS enhances fear extinction in humans: A preliminary study.  67thSociety of Biological Psychiatry Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, PA.  Poster Session.

Furtak S.C., Greenberg J., Diniz J.B., Im J.J-Y., Falkenstein M., Ziedan M., Linnman C., Pitman R.K., Wilhelm S., Rauch S., and Milad M.R. (2011) Comparative analysis of brain activation patterns during fear extinction in two anxiety disorders: insight from PTSD vs. OCD. Society for Neuroscience Abstracts, 36. Poster Session.

Kunwar P.S., Furtak S.C., Greenberg J., Coombs G., Im J.J-Y., Ziedan M., Falkenstein M., Holt D.J., Pitman R.K., Wilhelm S., Rauch S., and Milad M.R. (2011) Neuroimaging analysis of anatomical abnormalities in patients with post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and schizophrenia. Society for Neuroscience Abstracts, 36. Poster Session.

Burwell, R.D., Ahmed, O.J., and Furtak, S.C (2011) Theta modulation in postrhinal cortex during performance on a visual discrimination task, Society for Neuroscience Abstracts, 36. Poster Session.

Furtak S.C., Greenberg J., Diniz J.B., Im J.J-Y., Ziedan M., Linnman C., Pitman R.K., Wilhelm S., Rauch S., and Milad M.R. (2011) Neuroimaging of conditioned fear extinction in obsessive-compulsive disorder. Gordon Research Conference.  Amygdala in health and disease., Waterville, ME. Poster Session.

Linnman C. Furtak S.C., Greenberg J.L., Zeidan M.A., Jenike M.A., Jenike E.A., Falkenstein M., Pitman R.K., Rauch S.L., Wilhelm S., and Milad M.R. (2011) Conditioned and Unconditioned Responses in Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  66thSociety of Biological Psychiatry Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA.  Poster Session.

Furtak, S.C., Ahmed, O.J., and Burwell, R.D. (2011) Neuronal activity in postrhinal cortex (POR) during performance on a two-choice item discrimination task, 35rd Annual Winter Conference on the Neurobiology of Learning & Memory, Park City, Utah.  Data Blitz Session. 

Furtak, S.C. and Burwell, R.D. (2010) Parahippocampal contributions to a visual biconditional discrimination task. Society for Neuroscience Abstracts, 36. Poster Session.

Furtak, S.C. and Burwell, R.D. (2009) Neural correlates of objects and places in rodent postrhinal cortex during a visual object discrimination task.  Pavlovian Society Annual Meeting Abstracts, Burlington, Vermont. Poster Session.

Furtak, S.C. and Burwell, R.D. (2009) Neural correlates of objects and places in rodent postrhinal cortex during a visual object discrimination task.  Society for Neuroscience Abstracts, 35. Poster Session.

Furtak, S.C. and Burwell, R.D. (2009) Neuronal correlates of visual discrimination learning in postrhinal cortex.  33rd Annual Winter Conference on the Neurobiology of Learning & Memory, Park City, Utah.  Data Blitz Session.

Furtak, S.C. and Burwell, R.D. (2008) Neuronal activity in postrhinal cortex during performance on a novel visual discrimination task.  Society for Neuroscience Abstracts, 34. Poster Session. 

Professional Associations

  • American Association of University Women (2012 - present)
  • Western Psychological Association (2012 - present)
  • Society for Neuroscience (2000 - present)
  • Pavlovian Society (2000 - present)
  • Association for Psychological Science (2007 - 2008)
  • National Postdoctoral Association (2009 - 2011)
  • Yale Alumni Association
  • Sacramento Advocates for Girl Empowerment (SAGE)

Keywords

  • Emotional learning & memory
  • Behavioral neuroscience
  • Pavlovian conditioning
  • Medial temporal lobe
  • Amygdala
  • Anxiety disorders

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