Faculty Portrait

Contact Information

Name: Sharon C. Furtak, Ph.D.

Title: Associate Professor

Office Location: Amador, rm 357A

Email: furtak@csus.edu

Office Phone: (916) 278-6666

Mailing Address: Sacramento State 6000 J Street Sacramento, CA 95819-6007

Office Hours: Spring 2019: On Sabbatical No Office Hours

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.

Publications

Calub C.A., Furtak S.C., and Brown T.H. (2018) Revising the autoconditioning hypothesis for acquired reactivity to ultrasonic alarm calls. Physiology & Behavior 194: 380-386.

Furtak S.C. and Brown T.H. (2018) Limbic-system involvement in rat ultrasonic communications. In S.M. Brudzynski (Ed). Handbook of Ultrasonic Vocalizations. Elsevier. 95-108.

Raij T., Nummenmaa A., Marin M-F, Porter D., Furtak S., Setsompop K., and Milad M. (2017) Prefrontal cortex stimulation enhances fear extinction memory in humans. Biological Psychiatry S0006-3223(17)32144-3.

Rossi S., Huang S., Furtak S.C., Belliveau J.W., and Ahveninen J. (2014). Functional connectivity of dorsal and ventral frontoparietal seed regions during auditory orienting.  Brain Research.

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 Abstracts (2015 - Present)

Potter, N.M., Calub, C.A., & Furtak, S.C. (2019). Could Perirhinal Cortex Contribute to Stimulus Representation During Fear Extinction Recall? Annual Winter Conference on the Neurobiology of Learning & Memory, Park City, Utah.  Data Blitz Session.

Potter, N.M., Calub, C.A., & Furtak, S.C. (2018). A Possible Role for Perirhinal Cortex in Fear Extinction Learning. Society for Neuroscience. 43. San Diego, CA. Poster Session.

Bartley, T. D., Crandall, A.R., & Furtak, S. C. (2018). Assessing the Function of the Perirhinal Cortex: Affective Stimulus Processing Across Modalities. Annual Provost’s Student Research & Creative Activity Forum.  Sacramento, CA. Poster Session.

Sparling, S., Vang, N., & Furtak, S. C. (2018). Assessing the Function of the Perirhinal Cortex: Developing a Perceptual Visual Task. Annual Provost’s Student Research & Creative Activity Forum.  Sacramento, CA. Poster Session.

Schnider, A. K., Bartley, T. D., & Furtak, S. C. (2017). PTSD and the Perirhinal Cortex: Demystifying Complex Learned Associations. Western Psychology Association Annual Conference.  Sacramento, CA. Poster Session.

Potter, N.M., Calub, C.A., Poujade, K.N., & Furtak, S.C. (2017). Impaired fear extinction relevant to anxiety-related disorders: Using a rodent model to differentiate the neural pathways of fear. Western Psychology Association Annual Conference.  Sacramento, CA. Poster Session.

Lord, T.M. & Furtak, S. C. (2017). Alteration of contextual cues influence discrimination in rats. Western Psychology Association Annual Conference.  Sacramento, CA. Poster Session.

Lord, T.M. & Furtak, S. C. (2017). Optimizing contextual discrimination in the context shift. Sacramento State Student Research Symposium, Sacramento, CA. Slide Session.

Schnider, A. K. & Furtak, S. C. (2016). Perirhinal-amygdala connectivity supports fear conditioning to a complex stimulus. Sacramento State Student Research Symposium, Sacramento, CA. Slide Session.

Potter, N.M. & Furtak S.C. (2016). Perirhinal cortex involvement in fear extinction to a discontinuous light stimulus. Sacramento State Student Research Symposium, Sacramento, CA. Slide Session.*In top 10 students, which went on to present at system-wide competition.

Calub C.A., Potter N.M., Beckner A.G., Sardo A.C., and Furtak S.C. (2015) Perirhinal cortex involvement in fear extinction to a discontinuous light stimulus. Society for Neuroscience Abstracts, 40. Washington, DC. Poster Session.

Schnider, A. K. & Furtak, S. C. (2015). Perirhinal-amygdala connectivity supports fear conditioning to a complex stimulus. Annual Psychology Research Conference at CSUS. Sacramento, CA. Poster Session.

Schnider, A. K. & Furtak, S. C. (2015). Perirhinal-amygdala connectivity supports fear conditioning to a complex stimulus. Provost’s Student Research Symposium, Sacramento, CA. Poster Session.

Furtak S.C., Calub C.A., and Potter N.M. (2015) Perirhinal cortex involvement in fear extinction to a discontinuous light stimulus. Pavlovian Society Annual Meeting Abstracts. Portland, OR. Poster Session.

Calub C.A., Furtak S.C., and Brown T.H. (2015) Autoconditiong hypothesis for acquired fear of ultrasonic alarm cries.  Pavlovian Society Annual Meeting Abstracts. Portland, OR. Poster Session.

Raij T., Nummenmaa A., Marin M.-F., Boratyn D., Furtak S., Setsompop K, and Milad M. (2015) A probabilistic brain stimulation atlas for modulating human fear memory. BrainSTIM. Honolulu, Hawaii. Poster Session.

Funding Support and Awards

  • 07/18 - 06/22: National Science Foundation (NSF) Division of Integrative Organismal Systems (IOS),Title: RUI: Perceptual and Mnemonic Functions of the Perirhinal Cortex in Stimulus Representations, Grant PI: Sharon Furtak, Total Award (Includes Indirect): $465,041
  • 09/17 - 08/18: Research and Creative Activity Mini-Grant Award, California State University Sacramento, Sacramento, CA, Grant PI: Sharon Furtak, Total Award: $7,500
  • 06/17: Support for Preparation and Submission of Proposal for External Funding Award from Social Sciences & Interdisciplinary Studies, California State University Sacramento, Sacramento, CA, Grant PI: Sharon Furtak, Total Award: $5,000
  • 06/17: Special Funding Award from Social Sciences & Interdisciplinary Studies, California State University Sacramento, Sacramento, CA, Grant PI: Sharon Furtak, Total Award: $1,096
  • 11/16 - 10/18: California Mathematics Readiness Challenge Initiative Award, Department of Education, California,Grant PI: Joy Salvetti, Role: Co-Evaluator, Total Award: $1,280,000
  • 06/16 - 05/17: Course Redesign with Technology Award, California State University, Chancellor’s Office, Location of Project: California State University Sacramento, Grant PI: Sharon Furtak, Total Award: $10,148
  • 09/14 - 08/15: Research and Creative Activity Mini-Grant Award, California State University Sacramento, Sacramento, CA, Grant PI: Sharon Furtak, Total Award: $4,740,
  • Summer 2014: Provost’s Research Incentive Fund, California State University Sacramento, Sacramento, CA, Grant PI: Sharon Furtak, Total Award: $5,000
  • Spring 2014: Probationary Faculty Development Grant Award, California State University Sacramento, Retirees Association, Sacramento, CA, Total Award: $500
  • 02/14: Faculty Professional Development Award for Student Mentorship Recognition, Academic Affairs & Research Administration, California State University Sacramento, Sacramento, CA, Total Award: $250
  • 09/12 - 05/13: Faculty Promotion Development Award,  College of Social Sciences & Interdisciplinary Studies, California State University Sacramento, Sacramento, CA, Grant PI: Sharon Furtak,Total Award: $557
  • 07/09 - 01/11: Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA), Postdoctoral Fellowship, National Institutes of Health (NIMH), Grant PI: Sharon Furtak, Location of Project: Brown University, Providence, RI, Total Award: $101,764
  • 01/08 - 12/08: Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA), Institutional Training Grant, National Institutes of Health (NIMH), Location of Project: Brown University, Providence, RI, Total Award: $42,000
  • 09/05 - 05/06: Jane Olejarczyk Award, Department of Psychology, Yale University, Yale University, New Haven, CT, Total Award: $350
  • 08/04 - 05/06: Individual Research Project Award, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, Yale University, Yale University, New Haven, CT, Total Award: $15,000

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 (2007 - present)
  • Sacramento Advocates for Girl Empowerment (SAGE) (2012-2013)

Keywords

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

Eagle Lake

The library quad

bike rider below Guy West Bridge

Guy West Bridge

Mexican Volcanic Belt cinder cones

Mariposa Hall

University Union

University Union