Ronald Szymusiak

University of California, Los Angeles, Los Ángeles, California, United States

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Publications (82)270.28 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Corticotropin releasing factor (CRF) is implicated in sleep and arousal regulation. Exogenous CRF causes sleep suppression that is associated with activation of at least two important arousal systems, pontine noradrenergic and hypothalamic orexin/hypocretin neurons. It is not known if CRF also impacts sleep-promoting neuronal systems. We hypothesized that CRF-mediated changes in wake and sleep involve decreased activity of hypothalamic sleep-regulatory neurons localized in the preoptic area. To test this hypothesis, we examined the effects of intracerebroventricular (ICV) administration of CRF on sleep-wake measures and c-Fos expression in GABAergic neurons in the median preoptic nucleus (MnPN) and ventrolateral preoptic area (VLPO) in different experimental conditions. Administration of CRF (0.1 nmol) during baseline rest phase led to delayed sleep onset and decreases in total amount and mean duration of non rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. Administration of CRF during acute sleep deprivation (SD) resulted in suppression of recovery sleep and decreased c-Fos expression in MnPN/VLPO GABAergic neurons. Compared to vehicle controls, ICV CRF potentiated disturbances of both NREM and REM sleep in rats exposed to a species-specific psychological stressor, the dirty cage of a male conspecific. The number of MnPN/VLPO GABAergic neurons expressing c-Fos was reduced in the CRF-treated group of dirty cage exposed rats. These findings confirm the involvement of CRF in wake-sleep cycle regulation and suggest that increased CRF signaling in the brain (1) negatively affects homeostatic responses to sleep loss, (2) exacerbates stress-induced disturbances of sleep and (3) suppresses the activity of sleep-regulatory neurons of the MnPN and VLPO. Copyright © 2015, American Journal of Physiology - Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology.
    No preview · Article · Sep 2015 · AJP Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
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    Full-text · Dataset · Jul 2015
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    ABSTRACT: Sleep and circadian timing are fundamental biological imperatives in animals and humans, throughout the lifespan. These biological systems can be challenged by pathology, individual choices, and social/societal pressures, often resulting in sleep loss or circadian disruption (i.e., "sleep deficiency"), and ultimately adverse health and safety outcomes. Advances in the scientific knowledge generated during the last decade indicate the transformative potential of sleep and circadian health for improving the health of the American people, including the development of novel, personalized, preventative and therapeutic strategies for multiple chronic diseases. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) and the Sleep Research Society (SRS) created a Task Force with a mandate to engage the sleep and circadian scientific community, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other key stakeholders to help catalyze the implementation of the most time-sensitive research priorities identified in the 2011 NIH Sleep Disorders Research Plan.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2014 · Sleep
  • Ronald S Szymusiak

    No preview · Article · Dec 2013 · Sleep
  • Md Aftab Alam · Sunil Kumar · Dennis McGinty · Md Noor Alam · Ronald Szymusiak
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    ABSTRACT: The preoptic hypothalamus is implicated in sleep regulation. Neurons in the median preoptic nucleus (MnPO) and the ventrolateral preoptic area (VLPO) have been identified as potential sleep regulatory elements. However, the extent to which MnPO and VLPO neurons are activated in response to changing homeostatic sleep regulatory demands is unresolved. To address this question, we continuously recorded the extracellular activity of neurons in the rat MnPO, VLPO and dorsal lateral preoptic area (LPO) during baseline sleep and waking, during 2 h of sleep deprivation (SD) and during 2 h of recovery sleep (RS). Sleep-active neurons in the MnPO (n=11) and VLPO (n=13) were activated in response to SD, such that waking discharge rates increased by 95.8%±29.5% and 59.4±17.3%, respectively, above waking baseline values. During RS, nonREM sleep discharge rates of MnPO neurons initially increased to 65.6±15.2% above baseline values, then declined to baseline levels in association with decreases in EEG delta power. Increase in nonREM sleep discharge rates in VLPO neurons during RS averaged 40.5±7.6% above baseline. REM-active neurons (n=16) in the LPO also exhibited increased waking discharge during SD and an increase in nonREM discharge during RS. Infusion of A2A adenosine receptor antagonist into the VLPO, attenuated SD-induced increases in neuronal discharge. Populations of LPO wake/REM-active and state-indifferent neurons and dorsal LPO sleep-active neurons were unresponsive to SD. These findings support the hypothesis that sleep-active neurons in the MnPO and VLPO, and REM-active neurons in the LPO are components of neuronal circuits that mediate homeostatic responses to sustained wakefulness.
    No preview · Article · Oct 2013 · Journal of Neurophysiology
  • Andrey Kostin · Dennis McGinty · Ronald Szymusiak · Md Noor Alam
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    ABSTRACT: Nitric oxide (NO) has been implicated in the regulation of sleep. The perifornical-lateral hypothalamic area (PF-LHA) is a key wake-promoting region and contains neurons that are active during behavioral or cortical activation. Recently, we found higher levels of NO metabolites (NOx), an indirect measure of NO levels, in the PF-LHA during prolonged-waking (SD). However, NO is highly reactive and diffuses rapidly and the NOx assay is not sensitive enough to detect rapid-changes in NO levels across spontaneous sleep-waking states. We used a novel Nafion®-modified Platinum (NF-PT) electrode for real-time detection of NO levels in the PF-LHA across sleep-wake cycles, dark-light phases, and during SD. Sprague-Dawley male rats were surgically prepared for chronic sleep-wake recording and implantation of NF-PT electrode into the PF-LHA. EEG, EMG, and electrochemical current generated by NF-PT electrode were continuously acquired for 5-7 days including one day with 3h of SD. In the PF-LHA, NO levels exhibited a waking>REM>nonREM sleep pattern (0.56±0.03μM >0.47±0.02μM >0.42±0.02μM; p<0.01). NO levels were also higher during the dark- as compared to the light-phase (0.53±0.03μM vs. 0.44±0.02μM; p<0.01). NO levels increased during 3h of SD as compared to undisturbed control (0.58±0.04μM vs. 0.47±0.01μM; p<0.05). The findings indicate that in the PF-LHA, NO is produced during behavioral or cortical activation. Since elevated levels of NO inhibits most of the PF-LHA neurons that are active during cortical activation, these findings support a hypothesis that NO produced in conjunction with the activation of PF-LHA neurons during waking/SD, inhibits the same neuronal population to promote sleep.
    No preview · Article · Sep 2013 · Neuroscience
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    ABSTRACT: Many physiological and molecular processes are strongly rhythmic and profoundly influenced by sleep. The continuing effort of biological, medical, and veterinary science to understand the temporal organization of cellular, physiological, be- havioral and cognitive function holds great promise for the improvement of the welfare of animals and human beings. As a result, attending veterinarians and IACUC are often charged with the responsibility of evaluating experiments on such rhythms or the effects of sleep (or its deprivation) in vertebrate animals. To produce interpretable data, animals used in such research must often be maintained in carefully controlled (often constant) conditions with minimal disruption. The lighting environment must be strictly controlled, frequent changes of cages and bedding are undesirable, and daily visual checks are often not possible. Thus deviations from the standard housing procedures specified in the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals are often necessary. This report reviews requirements for experiments on biological rhythms and sleep and discusses how scientific considerations can be reconciled with the recommendations of the Guide.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2013 · Journal of the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science: JAALAS
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    ABSTRACT: The median preoptic nucleus (MnPN) and the ventrolateral preoptic area (VLPO) are two hypothalamic regions that have been implicated in sleep regulation, and both nuclei contain sleep-active GABAergic neurons. Adenosine is an endogenous sleep regulatory substance, which promotes sleep via A1 and A2A receptors (A2AR). Infusion of A2AR agonist into the lateral ventricle or into the subarachnoid space underlying the rostral basal forebrain (SS-rBF), has been previously shown to increase sleep. We examined the effects of an A2AR agonist, CGS-21680, administered into the lateral ventricle and the SS-rBF on sleep and Fos protein immunoreactivity (Fos-IR) in GABAergic neurons in the MnPN and VLPO. Intracerebroventricular (ICV) administration of CGS-21680 during the second half of lights-on phase increased sleep and increased the number of MnPN and VLPO GABAergic neurons expressing Fos-IR. Similar effects were found with CGS-21680 microinjection into the SS-rBF. The induction of Fos-IR in preoptic GABAergic neurons was not secondary to drug-induced sleep, since CGS-21680 delivered to the SS-rBF significantly increased Fos-IR in MnPN and VLPO neurons in animals that were not permitted sleep. ICV of infusion of ZM-241385, an A2AR antagonist, during the last 2 h of a 3 h period of sleep deprivation caused suppression of subsequent recovery sleep and reduced Fos-IR in MnPN and VLPO GABAergic neurons. Our findings support a hypothesis that A2AR mediated activation of MnPN and VLPO GABAergic neurons contributes to adenosinergic regulation of sleep.
    No preview · Article · May 2013 · AJP Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
  • Ronald Szymusiak · Irma Gvilia
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    ABSTRACT: Hypersomnia can result from deficits in 1 or more of the arousal systems or through excessive activation of sleep-promoting systems. What is known about brain abnormalities in clinical disorders with hypersomnia suggests that arousal deficiency is a common culprit. This article reviews the neurophysiology, functional anatomy, and neurochemistry of brain arousal systems that have been implicated in excessive sleepiness in human disorders. Chronically increased production of the endogenous somnogens interleukin 1 and tumor necrosis factor has been implicated in hypersomnia associated with infection and chronic inflammatory disease, and the mechanisms of action of these 2 neuromodulators are also discussed.
    No preview · Article · Jun 2012 · Sleep Medicine Clinics
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    ABSTRACT: The present study evaluated the hypothesis that developmental changes in hypothalamic sleep-regulatory neuronal circuits contribute to the maturation of sleep homeostasis in rats during the fourth postnatal week. In a longitudinal study, we quantified electrographic measures of sleep during baseline and in response to sleep deprivation (SD) on postnatal days 21/29 (P21/29) and P22/30 (experiment 1). During 24-h baseline recordings on P21, total sleep time (TST) during the light and dark phases did not differ significantly. On P29, TST during the light phase was significantly higher than during the dark phase. Mean duration of non-rapid-eye-movement (NREM) sleep bouts was significantly longer on P29 vs. P21, indicating improved sleep consolidation. On both P22 and P30, rats exhibited increased NREM sleep amounts and NREM electroencephalogram delta power during recovery sleep (RS) compared with baseline. Increased NREM sleep bout length during RS was observed only on P30. In experiment 2, we quantified activity of GABAergic neurons in median preoptic nucleus (MnPN) and ventrolateral preoptic area (VLPO) during SD and RS in separate groups of P22 and P30 rats using c-Fos and glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD) immunohistochemistry. In P22 rats, numbers of Fos(+)GAD(+) neurons in VLPO did not differ among experimental conditions. In P30 rats, Fos(+)GAD(+) counts in VLPO were elevated during RS. MnPN neuronal activity was state-dependent in P22 rats, but Fos(+)GAD(+) cell counts were higher in P30 rats. These findings support the hypothesis that functional emergence of preoptic sleep-regulatory neurons contributes to the maturation of sleep homeostasis in the developing rat brain.
    No preview · Article · Feb 2011 · AJP Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
  • Ronald Szymusiak
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    ABSTRACT: Regions of the neocortex most strongly activated during waking exhibit increased sleep intensity during subsequent sleep. The novel concept that aspects of sleep homeostasis are determined locally in the cortex contrasts with the established views that global changes in neocortical activity during sleep are achieved through inhibition of ascending arousal systems that originate in the brainstem and hypothalamus. Experiments in animals and humans document asymmetries in neocortical electroencephalogram (EEG) slow-wave activity (SWA), a marker of homeostatic sleep need, as a result of functional activity during waking. In addition to local, use-dependent augmentation of EEG SWA and evoked potentials, expression of plasticity-related genes and of sleep-regulatory cytokines and neuromodulators have been shown to be elevated in a use-dependent manner in neocortex. The functional consequences of local sleep are hypothesized to involve regulation of synaptic plasticity, synaptic homeostasis and energy balance. The evidence for use-dependent modulation of neocortical activity during sleep is compelling and provides novel insights into sleep function. However, local changes in neocortex are generally expressed on a background of global sleep. It remains to be determined if events initiated in the cortex have global sleep-promoting effects and how neocortical and hypothalamic mechanisms of sleep control interact.
    No preview · Article · Nov 2010 · Current opinion in pulmonary medicine
  • Dennis McGinty · Ronald Szymusiak

    No preview · Article · Nov 2010
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    ABSTRACT: The lamina terminalis (LT) consists of the organum vasculosum of the LT (OVLT), the median preoptic nucleus (MnPO) and the subfornical organ (SFO). All subdivisions of the LT project to the ventrolateral periaqueductal gray (vlPAG). The LT and the vlPAG are implicated in several homeostatic and behavioral functions, including body fluid homeostasis, thermoregulation and the regulation of sleep and waking. By combining visualization of c-Fos protein and retrograde neuroanatomical tracer we have examined the functional correlates of LT-vlPAG projection neurons. Rats were injected with retrograde tracer into the vlPAG and, following a 1-week recovery period, they were subjected to either hypertonic saline administration (0.5 M NaCl, 1 mL/100 g i.p.), 24-h water deprivation, isoproterenol administration (increases circulating angiotensin II; 50 microg/kg s.c.), heat exposure (39 degrees C for 60 min) or permitted 180 min spontaneous sleep. Retrogradely labeled neurons from the vlPAG and double-labelled neurons were then identified and quantified throughout the LT. OVLT-vlPAG projection neurons were most responsive to hypertonic saline and water deprivation. SFO-vlPAG projection neurons were most active following isoproterenol administration, and MnPO-vlPAG projection neurons displayed significantly more Fos immunostaining following water deprivation, heat exposure and sleep. These results support the existence of functional subdivisions of LT-vlPAG-projecting neurons, and indicate three patterns of activity that correspond to thermal and sleep wake regulation, osmotic or hormonal stimuli.
    No preview · Article · Dec 2009 · European Journal of Neuroscience
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    Zoltan Peterfi · Dennis McGinty · Erzsebet Sarai · Ronald Szymusiak
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    ABSTRACT: We examined whether growth hormone-releasing hormone (GHRH) may promote non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep via activation of GABAergic neurons in the preoptic area. Male Sprague-Dawley rats were implanted with EEG, EMG electrodes and a unilateral intracerebroventricular cannula. Groups of rats received injections (3 microl icv) with gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GHRH) (0.1 nmol/100 g body wt) or equal volume of physiological saline at the onset of the dark period and were permitted spontaneous sleep for 90 min. Separate groups of rats were sleep deprived by gentle handling for 90 min, beginning at the time of GHRH or saline injection, at the onset of the dark period. Other groups of rats received intracerebroventricular octreotide (somatostatin analog OCT) injections, intracerebroventricular injection of one of two doses of competitive GHRH antagonist, or intracerebroventricular saline injection at light onset and were then permitted 90 min spontaneous sleep-waking. Rats were killed immediately after the 90-min sleep/wake monitoring period. Brain tissue was processed for immunohistochemistry for c-Fos protein and glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD). Single c-Fos and dual Fos-GAD cell counts were determined in the median preoptic nucleus (MnPN), and in the core and the extended parts of the ventrolateral preoptic nucleus (cVLPO and exVLPO). Intracerebroventricular GHRH elicited a significant increase in NREM sleep amount. Double-labeled Fos+GAD cell counts were significantly elevated after GHRH injection in the MnPN and VLPO in both undisturbed and sleep-deprived groups. OCT and GHRH antagonist significantly decreased NREM sleep amount compared with control rats. OCT injection increased single c-Fos-labeled cell counts in the MnPN, but not in the VLPO. Double-labeled cell counts were significantly reduced after OCT and the high dose of GHRH antagonist injection in all areas examined. These findings identify GABAergic neurons in the MnPN and VLPO as potential targets of the sleep-regulatory actions of GHRH.
    Preview · Article · Nov 2009 · AJP Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
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    ABSTRACT: The perifornical-lateral hypothalamic area (PF-LHA) has been implicated in the regulation of arousal. The PF-LHA contains wake-active neurons that are quiescent during non-REM sleep and in the case of neurons expressing the peptide hypocretin (HCRT), quiescent during both non-REM and REM sleep. Adenosine is an endogenous sleep factor and recent evidence suggests that adenosine via A(1) receptors may act on PF-LHA neurons to promote sleep. We examined the effects of bilateral activation as well as blockade of A(1) receptors in the PF-LHA on sleep-wakefulness in freely behaving rats. The sleep-wake profiles of male Wistar rats were recorded during reverse microdialysis perfusion of artificial cerebrospinal fluid (aCSF) and two doses of adenosine A(1) receptor antagonist, 1,3-dipropyl-8-phenylxanthine (CPDX; 5 microM and 50 microM) or A(1) receptor agonist, N(6)-cyclopentyladenosine (CPA; 5 microM and 50 microM) into the PF-LHA for 2 h followed by 4 h of aCSF perfusion. CPDX perfused into the PF-LHA during lights-on phase produced arousal (F=7.035, p<0.001) and concomitantly decreased both non-REM (F=7.295, p<0.001) and REM sleep (F=3.456, p<0.004). In contrast, CPA perfused into the PF-LHA during lights-off phase significantly suppressed arousal (F=7.891, p<0.001) and increased non-REM (F=8.18, p <0.001) and REM sleep (F=30.036, p<0.001). These results suggest that PF-LHA is one of the sites where adenosine, acting via A(1) receptors, inhibits PF-LHA neurons to promote sleep.
    Preview · Article · Sep 2009 · Brain research
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    Ronald Szymusiak

    Preview · Article · Jul 2009 · Sleep
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    Full-text · Chapter · Jan 2009
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    ABSTRACT: Previous work showed that sleep is associated with increased brain protein synthesis and that arrest of protein synthesis facilitates sleep. Arrest of protein synthesis is induced during the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress response, through phosphorylation of eukaryotic initiation factor 2alpha (p-eIF2alpha). We tested a hypothesis that elevation of p-eIF2alpha would facilitate sleep. We studied the effects of intracerebroventricular infusion of salubrinal (Salub), which increases p-eIF2alpha by inhibiting its dephosphorylation. Salub increased deep slow wave sleep by 255%, while reducing active waking by 49%. Delta power within non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep was increased, while power in the sigma, beta, and gamma bands during NREM was reduced. We found that Salub increased expression of p-eIF2alpha in the basal forebrain (BF) area, a sleep-wake regulatory brain region. Therefore, we quantified the p-eIF2alpha-immunolabeled neurons in the BF area; Salub administration increased the number of p-eIF2alpha-expressing noncholinergic neurons in the caudal BF. In addition, Salub also increased the intensity of p-eIF2alpha expression in both cholinergic and noncholinergic neurons, but this was more widespread among the noncholinergic neurons. Our findings support a hypothesis that sleep is facilitated by signals associated with the ER stress response.
    Preview · Article · Nov 2008 · AJP Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
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    ABSTRACT: The median preoptic nucleus (MnPN) of the hypothalamus contains sleep-active neurons including sleep-active GABAergic neurons and is involved in the regulation of nonREM/REM sleep. The hypocretinergic (HCRT) neurons of the perifornical-lateral hypothalamic area (PF-LHA) and serotonergic (5-HT) neurons of the dorsal raphe nucleus (DRN) are mostly active during waking and have been implicated in the regulation of arousal. MnPN GABAergic neurons project to the PF-LHA and DRN. It is hypothesized that MnPN promotes sleep by inhibiting multiple arousal systems including HCRT and other wake-active neurons within the PF-LHA and 5-HT neurons in the DRN. We examined the effects of inactivation of MnPN neurons by locally microinjecting 0.2 microl of 1 mM or 10 mM solutions of a GABA(A) receptor agonist, muscimol, into the MnPN on Fos expression (Fos-IR) in the PF-LHA neurons including HCRT neurons and 5-HT neurons in the DRN in anesthetized rats. Compared to artificial cerebrospinal fluid control, microinjection of muscimol into the MnPN resulted in significantly higher percentages of HCRT and non-HCRT neurons in the PF-LHA and 5-HT neurons in the DRN that exhibited Fos-IR. The percentage of melanin-concentrating hormone (MCH)+/Fos+ neurons in the PF-LHA did not change after muscimol treatments. These results support a hypothesis that the activation of MnPN neurons contributes to the suppression of wake-promoting systems including HCRT and other unidentified neurons in the PF-LHA and 5-HT neurons in the DRN. These results also suggest that MCH neurons may not be under MnPN inhibitory control. These findings are consistent with a hypothesized role of MnPN in sleep regulation.
    Preview · Article · Sep 2008 · Brain Research
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    Ronald Szymusiak · Dennis McGinty
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    ABSTRACT: Normal waking is associated with neuronal activity in several chemically defined ascending arousal systems. These include monoaminergic neurons in the brainstem and posterior hypothalamus, cholinergic neurons in the brainstem and basal forebrain, and hypocretin (orexin) neurons in the lateral hypothalamus. Collectively, these systems impart tonic activation to their neuronal targets in the diencephalon and neocortex that is reflected in the low-voltage fast-frequency electroencephalogram patterns of wakefulness. Neuronal discharge in these arousal systems declines rapidly at sleep onset. Transitions from waking to sleep, therefore, involve coordinated inhibition of multiple arousal systems. An important source of sleep-related inhibition of arousal arises from neurons located in the preoptic hypothalamus. These preoptic neurons are strongly activated during sleep, exhibiting sleep/waking state-dependent discharge patterns that are the reciprocal of that observed in the arousal systems. The majority of preoptic sleep regulatory neurons synthesize the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA. Anatomical and functional evidence supports the hypothesis that GABAergic neurons in the median preoptic nucleus (MnPN) and ventrolateral preoptic area (VLPO) exert inhibitory control over the monoaminergic systems and the hypocretin system during sleep. Recent findings indicate that MnPN and VLPO neurons integrate homeostatic aspects of sleep regulation and are important targets for endogenous sleep factors, such as adenosine and growth hormone releasing hormone.
    Preview · Article · Feb 2008 · Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences

Publication Stats

4k Citations
270.28 Total Impact Points


  • 1987-2014
    • University of California, Los Angeles
      • • Department of Medicine
      • • Department of Psychology
      Los Ángeles, California, United States
  • 2000-2012
    • VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System
      Los Angeles, California, United States
  • 1994
    • United States Department of Veterans Affairs
      Бедфорд, Massachusetts, United States
  • 1980-1987
    • University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
      • Department of Psychology
      Urbana, Illinois, United States