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Student Profiles:

Eric Hudgins, MD, PhD

Matriculated: 2005

Graduate Program: Neuroscience


M.D., 2012, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC

Ph.D. (Neuroscience), 2010, Wake Forest University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Winston-Salem, NC

B.S. (Biochemistry), 2003, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC

B.S. (Microbiology), 2003, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC


Neurological Surgery, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA

I employ single-unit electrophysiology to study the involvement of midbrain dopamine neurons in associative learning. The reward prediction hypothesis of short-latency phasic dopamine (DA) activity has gained nearly uniform acceptance and dominated thinking on the neural basis of associative learning. Recently, however, the hypothesis has been challenged by the suggestion that the timing of the short-latency DA burst (typically 50-110 ms after stimulus presentation) is not consistent with feature analysis having proceeded to the extent necessary to inform DA neurons of the identity, and thus the reward value of the stimulus (Redgrave et al., 2007). Rather than signal reward probability on the basis of stimulus identity, Redgrave and colleagues have argued that the short-latency DA response could instead reflect stimulus salience based on a learned relationship between reward value and stimulus location, information that may be available much earlier and which served as a redundant cue in many prior studies (e.g. Fiorillo et al., 2003; Tobler et al., 2005). We seek to determine if (and if so, at what latency) the responses of DA neurons reflect the reward probabilities associated with complex visual stimuli by using experimental designs in which reward probability and stimulus location are unrelated. These experiments provide critical tests of both the reward prediction hypothesis and its recent challenged by determining the circumstances in which the short-latency DA burst can or cannot predict the reward values of sensory events.

E.D. Hudgins, J.G. McHaffie, P. Redgrave, E. Salinas, T.R. Stanford (2009). Putative midbrain dopamine neurons encode sensory salience and reward prediction at different latencies. Soc. Neurosci. Abstr. 661.1

E.D. Hudgins, S.M. Dudek (2004). Increased SRF DNA binding following long-term potentiation-inducing stimulation in rat Hippocampus CA1. Soc. Neurosci. Abstr. 396.4

E. D. Hudgins, S. M. Dudek (2003). Rapid activation of transcription factors in CA1 by LTP-inducing stimulation. Soc. Neurosci. Abstr. 872.4

E. D. Hudgins, S. M. Dudek (2002). Analysis of activity-dependent transcription factors in Hippocampal CA1 using protein-DNA arrays. Soc. Neurosci. Abstr. 151.10

E.D. Hudgins, J.G. McHaffie, P. Redgrave, E. Salinas, and T.R. Stanford (in preparation). Midbrain dopamine neurons encode sensory salience and reward prediction at distinct temporal latencies

J.P. Adams, R.A. Robinson, E.D. Hudgins, E.M. Wissink, S.M. Dudek (2009). NMDA receptor-independent control of transcription factors and gene expression. Neuroreport. Oct 28;20(16):1429-33

J.P. Adams, E.D. Hudgins, J.J. Lundquist, M. Zhao, and S.M. Dudek (2005). Rapid Nuclear Responses to Action Potentials. The Transsynaptic Dialogue in Synaptic Plasticity, eds Clive Bramham, Helen Scharfman, and Patric Stanton, Kluwer/Academic Press

Honors and Awards:
2009-2012........Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award
-.............................National Institutes of Health (F30MH085446)
2009-...............Mary A. Bell Award - 1st place, poster presentation
-.............................Western North Carolina Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience
2009-...............Graduate Student Travel Award, Society for Neuroscience, Chicago, IL
2005-2012........MD-PhD Academic Scholarship Award, Wake Forest Univ. School of Med.
2004-2005........Intramural Research Training Award, National Institutes of Health,
-.............................National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS/NIH)
2003-...............Valedictorian, North Carolina State University
2002-...............Elected to Phi Beta Kappa
2002-...............Elected to Phi Kappa Phi

Professional Society Memberships:
Wake Forest Univ. MD-PhD Student Association - President
American Physician Scientists Association (APSA)
........Co-Chair, Annual Meeting Committee, APSA (2007-2008)
........Annual Meeting Committee Member, APSA (2006-2008)
........Wake Forest University Representative, APSA (2006-2007)
Flying Physicians Association
American Academy of Neurology (AAN)
American College of Physicians (ACP)
North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS)
Society for Neuroscience (SfN)

Interests & Hobbies:
Aviation (pilot, PP-ASEL)
Nature Photography

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