Luke Ayers 260x300

Luke W. Ayers, PhD

  • Chair, Psychology Department
  • Associate Professor
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

To me, there are few things I enjoy more than being in the classroom. I love to learn, and I love to share both my knowledge and my passion for learning with others.  

My specialty of behavior neuroscience makes those activities easy. This field is an open frontier where new insights into the biological basis of behavior are being made every day. So, I am lucky because I get to study these discoveries and then share that information with my students. My hope is that by doing so with passion and enthusiasm, I will help my students discover their own love of learning.  

Practically, I also believe a college education should help students develop skills that will lead them to lifelong success. My classes therefore focus on helping students learn how to approach complex information, utilize effective study habits, manage their time, work independently, and solve real-world problems. My hope is that by the time my students graduate, they are well prepared for the future ahead of them. 

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 learning & memory, psychopharmacology, hormonal influences on behavior, addiction, and compulsive behaviors. 

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