Dana Small PhD Clin, MSc

Associate Professor of Psychiatry and of Psychology; Associate Fellow, The John B Pierce Laboratory

Research Interests

Neurophysiology of feeding; Chemical senses; Neuroimaging; Dopamine; Addiction; Motivation; Psychophysics; Stress; Obesity

Current Projects

  • The role of the amygdala in weight-gain susceptibility
  • Cognitive and affective influences on gustatory processing
  • Neural correlates of flavor processing
  • The influence of smoking on brain encoding of food
  • Neural correlates of flavor nutrient conditioning
  • Top-down influences on brain encoding of flavors and foods

Research Summary

Neuroimaging techniques such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and positron emission tomography have made it possible to study brain representation of sensation, motivation and cognition in humans. The primary interest of my lab is to use these techniques in conjunction with psychophysics and behavioral testing to uncover brain substrates of taste, smell, flavor, and food reward. We are particularly interested in multisensory integration of taste and smell as well as in understanding how sensory processing interacts with behavioral choices such as decisions to eat or stop eating in healthy individuals and in people with eating disorders. A new research aim is to examine similarities and differences in the neural representation of food and drug reward to answer questions such as how nicotine addiction may influence the ability of food odors to induce eating. We currently have a fully automated and fMRI compatible olfactometer and gustometer and are using these devices to study taste, smell and food reward in the 3 Tesla Magnet at the Yale MR Imaging Research Center.


Selected Publications

  • G. Bender, T. Hummel, S. Negoias, D. M. Small “Separate signals for orthonasal vs. retronasal perception of food but not nonfood odors” Behavioral Neuroscience, (2009)123; 481-489.
  • E. Stice, S. Spoor, C. Bohon, D. M. Small “Relation between obesity and blunted striatal response to food is moderated by Taq1A1 DRD2 Gene” Science (2008) 322: 449-452.
  • D. M. Small, M. G. Veldhuizen, J. Felsted, Y.E. Mak, F. McGlone “Separable networks encode anticipatory and consummatory chemosensation.” Neuron (2008) 13: 786-797
  • D.M. Small, J. Gerber, Y. E. Mak, T. Hummel “Differential neural responses evoked by orthonasal versus retronasal odorant perception in humans.” Neuron, (2005) 47: 593-605
  • D. M. Small, M. D. Gregory, Y. E. Mak, D. Gitelman, M.-M. Mesulam, T. Parrish. “Dissociation of neural representation of intensity and affective valuation in human gustation. Neuron, (2003) 39: 701-711
  • D.M. Small, M. Jones-Gotman, A. Dagher. Feeding induced dopamine release in dorsal striatum correlates with meal pleasantness ratings in healthy human volunteers. Neuroimage, (2003) 19: 1709-1715

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