Luke Ayers

Luke W. Ayers, PhD

  • Associate Professor
  • Chair, Psychology Department
Media Expertise:
  • Psychology & Mental Health
  • Health Sciences

Affiliated Programs


  • PhD, Behavioral Neuroscience (2013)
    University of Delaware (DE)
  • BA, Psychology (2008)
    Arcadia University (PA)

About Me

My goal is to provide students with an enriching, engaging, and highly-valued college experience. I love to learn and I have a genuine fascination with all areas of science. So, my first goal is to share this passion with students in the hope that it may inspire their own love and appreciation for education. More importantly perhaps, I believe an education should prepare students for their future careers. My courses and mentorship practices therefore focus on immersing students in a topic, training them in effective learning techniques, and developing skills in problem-solving and empirical research. These practices help students obtain both the knowledge base and skill set required to make them highly valued in their future careers.

Research Interests

“Mens sana in corpore sano – to have a sound mind in a sound body”

As a behavioral neuroscientist, I try to understand the relationships between behavior, physiological processes of the body, and mental states. My work specifically focuses on the topics of fear, anxiety, stress, hunger, and habit-like behavior. I also have expertise in principles of learning & memory, psychopharmacology, hormonal control of behavior, and the neurobiology of addiction and compulsive behavior.

My research has two primary areas of focus. In humans, I study how states of hunger influence our food preferences and eating habits. I also work in animal-models of fear/anxiety behavior to develop novel treatments for anxiety-related conditions, such as PTSD.

I also truly value the opportunity to mentor students who are interested in research. All of my projects involve undergraduate research assistants, who gain first-hand experience in designing, implementing, and conducting empirical research experiments.


  • Ikonomou, V., & Ayers, L.  (2019). Nutritious or delicious? A survey demonstrating the impact of hunger and health behaviors on food preferences. Journal of Social Science Research. 14, 3268-3281.
  • Ayers, L.W., Agostini, A., Schulkin, J., Rosen, J.B., Effects of oxytocin on background anxiety in rats with high or low baseline startle. Psychopharmacology. 2016. Jun;233(11):2165-72.
  • Ayers, L. W., Asok, A., Blaze, J., Roth, T. L., & Rosen, J. B. Changes in dam and pup behavior following repeated postnatal exposure to a predator odor (TMT): A preliminary investigation in long-evans rats. Developmental Psychobiology, 2016. Mar;58(2):176-84.
  • Ayers, L.W., Asok, A., Heyward, F.D., Rosen, J.B., Freezing to the predator odor 2,4,5 dihydro 2,5 trimethylthiazoline (TMT) is disrupted by olfactory bulb removal but not trigeminal deafferentation. Behavioural Brain Research. 2013. Sept;15(253):54-59.
  • Asok, A., Ayers, L.W., Awoyemi, B., Schulkin, J., Rosen, J.B., Innate fear to the predator odor 2,5-dihydro-2,4,5-trimethylthiazoline (TMT) regulates mRNA expression of immediate early genes and neuropeptides. Behavioural Brain Research. 2013. July;1(248):85-93.
  • Ayers, L.W., Missig, G., Schulkin, J. and Rosen, J.B., Oxytocin Reduces Background Anxiety in a Fear-Potentiated Startle Paradigm: peripheral vs. central administration. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2011 Nov;36(12):2488-97.
  • Missig G., Ayers L.W., Schulkin J., Rosen J.B., Oxytocin reduces background anxiety in a fear-potentiated startle paradigm. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2010 Dec;35(13):2607-16.


Professional Affiliations & Memberships

  • American Psychological Association (APA)
  • Society for Neuroscience (SfN)
  • Society for the Teaching of Psychology (STP)


In the Media