Cedric L. Williams

Primary Appointment

  • Professor, Psychology

Contact

Research Interest(s)

The U.S. Army is engaged in extensive humanitarian demining efforts to remove hidden explosives left during war and restore these areas to stable societies. To meet the objectives of the U. S. Army, the Williams’ Lab is involved in a collaborative effort

Research Description

LAB MISSION: The Williams’ Lab is involved in a collaborative effort to train African Giant Pouched Rats and standard laboratory rodents to detect target scents associated with explosive odorants using automated methods. Our lab coordinates all activities related to designing, updating, providing quantitative analysis and implementing the behavioral components of olfactory discrimination learning in the detection of hidden explosives. The objective of this work is to discover novel behavioral strategies that reduce the time frame for training African Gambian and laboratory rats to reliably search for, identify and distinguish TNT explosive residues from a number of distractor odors. The research team is also involved in developing an Automated Deployable Robust Training (ADROIT) system that can be deployed in the field to reduce the human labor and time associated with producing explosive detecting rodents. This computer driven apparatus is used to automatically administer a series of operant and instrumental learning techniques to shape unique forms of olfactory discrimination learning necessary to detect harmful odorants.

LAB GOALS: The overall goals of our research are to provide the Dept. of Defense and Armed Forces with proven approaches to detect hidden explosives through the use of bio-detecting rodents; to use our behavioral learning strategies in conjunction with the ADROIT system to prepare African rats to successfully pass Odor Recognition Tests (ORT) in the same manner as explosive trained canines; and to develop rodents to a level of proficiency necessary to be deployed in the field by the Dept. of Defense to detect hidden land mines.

UNLEASH (Undergraduate Research)

LAB PROCEDURES: The lab is currently conducting daily training and data collection with African Gambian rats and the standard Sprague Dawley laboratory rat. The Gambian rats are a special species that have not been investigated in the laboratory. Our lab has taken a leading role in assessing many of the social, behavioral and cognitive functions that enable this species to be developed into efficient bio-detectors of explosives or hazardous chemical agents. Current research assistants are involved in running behavioral experiments with the ADROIT system, collecting training data, entering information into the computer, data analysis and the auxiliary tasks of daily laboratory and equipment upkeep. Contact: Prof. Williams clw3b@virginia.edu Website: www.virginia.edu/psychology/people/detail.php?id=174

Selected Publications

  • Young E, Williams C. Differential activation of amygdala Arc expression by positive and negatively valenced emotional learning conditions. Frontiers in behavioral neuroscience. 2013;7 191. PMID: 24367308 | PMCID: PMC3852216
  • Chen C, Williams C. Interactions between epinephrine, ascending vagal fibers, and central noradrenergic systems in modulating memory for emotionally arousing events. Frontiers in behavioral neuroscience. 2012;6 35. PMID: 22754515 | PMCID: PMC3384987
  • Park S, Williams C. Contribution of serotonin type 3 receptors in the successful extinction of cued or contextual fear conditioned responses: interactions with GABAergic signaling. Reviews in the neurosciences. 2012;23(5): 555-69. PMID: 23087085
  • McIntyre C, McGaugh J, Williams C. Interacting brain systems modulate memory consolidation. Neuroscience and biobehavioral reviews. 2011;36(7): 1750-62. PMID: 22085800 | PMCID: PMC3315607
  • Young E, Williams C. Valence dependent asymmetric release of norepinephrine in the basolateral amygdala. Behavioral neuroscience. 2010;124(5): 633-44. PMID: 20939663
  • King S, Williams C. Novelty-induced arousal enhances memory for cued classical fear conditioning: interactions between peripheral adrenergic and brainstem glutamatergic systems. Learning & memory (Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y.). 2009;16(10): 625-34. PMID: 19794188
  • Kerfoot E, Chattillion E, Williams C. Functional interactions between the nucleus tractus solitarius (NTS) and nucleus accumbens shell in modulating memory for arousing experiences. Neurobiology of learning and memory. 2007;89(1): 47-60. PMID: 17964820 | PMCID: PMC2175480