Ruth I. Wood, PhD

Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs

Director, Neuroscience Graduate Program

Professor of Integrative Anatomical Sciences

Image of Ruth I. Wood, PhD
Is this your profile? Click to edit


My research investigates neural circuits for behavior, including social behavior, addiction and mood. In particular, we are interested in how gonadal steroid hormones act in the brain, both during development and in the adult, to effect sex differences and modify behavior.

One line of research investigates the neurobiology of anabolic-androgenic steroid (AAS) abuse. AAS are drugs of abuse, but the potential for dependence and addiction remains unclear. Studies from our laboratory have shown that male and female rodents will voluntarily self-administer testosterone and other AAS. This suggests that AAS are potentially addictive, independent of their effects on muscle mass or athletic performance. We are currently exploring how AAS alter decision-making and response to risk.

We are also interested in the behavioral endocrinology of cooperation: how hormones modulate cooperative behavior. We have developed operant models to test cooperation in rats working for food reward. Our studies investigate the effects of oxytocin and prolactin to promote cooperation, and the effects of AAS to inhibit cooperative behavior.


  • Effort-based decision making in response to high-dose androgens: role of dopamine receptors Behav Pharmacol. 2022 10 01; 33(7):435-441. . View in PubMed
  • Performance on a modified signal detection task of attention is impaired in male and female rats following developmental exposure to the synthetic progestin, 17a-hydroxyprogesterone caproate Horm Behav. 2021 09; 135:105039. . View in PubMed
  • Developmental exposure to the synthetic progestin, 17a-hydroxyprogesterone caproate, disrupts the mesocortical serotonin pathway and alters impulsive decision-making in rats Dev Neurobiol. 2021 09; 81(6):763-773. . View in PubMed
  • Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2020 11; 121:104803. . View in PubMed
  • Developmental exposure to 17a-hydroxyprogesterone caproate impairs adult delayed reinforcement and reversal learning in male and female rats J Neuroendocrinol. 2020 06; 32(6):e12862. . View in PubMed
  • Sex Differences and Estrous Influences on Oxytocin Control of Food Intake Neuroscience. 2020 11 01; 447:63-73. . View in PubMed
  • Anabolic-androgenic steroid abuse and cognitive impairment: Testosterone IMPAIRS biconditional task performance in male rats Behav Brain Res. 2020 02 03; 379:112339. . View in PubMed
  • Anabolic-androgenic steroids and cognitive effort discounting in male rats Horm Behav. 2019 07; 113:13-20. . View in PubMed
  • Anabolic-androgenic steroids alter decision making in a balanced rodent model of the Iowa gambling task Behav Neurosci. 2018 Jun; 132(3):152-160. . View in PubMed
  • Anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS) increase sensitivity to uncertainty by inhibition of dopamine D1 and D2 receptors Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2018 04; 235(4):959-969. . View in PubMed
  • Androgen Regulation of the Mesocorticolimbic System and Executive Function Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). 2018; 9:279. . View in PubMed
  • Prosocial effects of prolactin in male rats: Social recognition, social approach and social learning Horm Behav. 2017 11; 96:122-129. . View in PubMed
  • Sex differences and hormonal modulation of ethanol-enhanced risk taking in rats Drug Alcohol Depend. 2017 05 01; 174:137-144. . View in PubMed
  • Male rats play a repeated donation game Physiol Behav. 2017 05 15; 174:95-103. . View in PubMed
  • Cooperation in rats playing the iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma game Anim Behav. 2016 Apr 01; 114:27-35. . View in PubMed
  • Anabolic-androgenic steroids decrease dendritic spine density in the nucleus accumbens of male rats Neuroscience. 2016 08 25; 330:72-8. . View in PubMed
  • Social housing conditions and oxytocin and vasopressin receptors contribute to ethanol conditioned social preference in female mice Physiol Behav. 2015 Nov 01; 151:469-77. . View in PubMed
  • Anabolic-androgenic steroids and decision making: Probability and effort discounting in male rats Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2015 Jul; 57:84-92. . View in PubMed
  • Anabolic-androgenic steroids impair set-shifting and reversal learning in male rats Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 2015 Apr; 25(4):583-90. . View in PubMed
  • mRNA regulation of cardiac iron transporters and ferritin subunits in a mouse model of iron overload Exp Hematol. 2014 Dec; 42(12):1059-67. . View in PubMed
  • Anabolic-androgenic steroids and appetitive sexual behavior in male rats Horm Behav. 2014 Sep; 66(4):585-90. . View in PubMed
  • Adverse health consequences of performance-enhancing drugs: an Endocrine Society scientific statement Endocr Rev. 2014 Jun; 35(3):341-75. . View in PubMed
  • Androgens and opiates: testosterone interaction with morphine self-administration in male rats Neuroreport. 2014 May 07; 25(7):521-6. . View in PubMed
  • Ethanol induces conditioned social preference in male mice Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2014 Apr; 38(4):1184-92. . View in PubMed
  • Testosterone enhances risk tolerance without altering motor impulsivity in male rats Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2014 Feb; 40:201-12. . View in PubMed
  • Sex differences and steroid modulation of cardiac iron in a mouse model of iron overload Transl Res. 2014 Feb; 163(2):151-9. . View in PubMed
  • Ethanol-induced conditioned partner preference in female mice Behav Brain Res. 2013 Apr 15; 243:273-7. . View in PubMed
  • Physiol Behav. 2013 Feb 17; 110-111:6-12. . View in PubMed
  • Testosterone and sport: current perspectives Horm Behav. 2012 Jan; 61(1):147-55. . View in PubMed
  • Testosterone as a discriminative stimulus in male rats Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2011 Nov; 100(1):185-90. . View in PubMed
  • MPTP Neurotoxicity and Testosterone Induce Dendritic Remodeling of Striatal Medium Spiny Neurons in the C57Bl/6 Mouse Parkinsons Dis. 2011; 2011:138471. . View in PubMed
  • Exercise effects on motor and affective behavior and catecholamine neurochemistry in the MPTP-lesioned mouse Behav Brain Res. 2010 Dec 01; 213(2):253-62. . View in PubMed
  • Membrane androgen receptors may mediate androgen reinforcement Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2010 Aug; 35(7):1063-73. . View in PubMed
  • Treatment of anabolic-androgenic steroid dependence: Emerging evidence and its implications Drug Alcohol Depend. 2010 Jun 01; 109(1-3):6-13. . View in PubMed
  • Sex differences in motor behavior in the MPTP mouse model of Parkinson’s disease Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2010 Jun; 95(4):466-72. . View in PubMed
  • The many facets of sex and drugs Horm Behav. 2010 Jun; 58(1):1. . View in PubMed
  • Anabolic-androgenic steroid dependence: an emerging disorder Addiction. 2009 Dec; 104(12):1966-78. . View in PubMed
  • Issues for DSM-V: clarifying the diagnostic criteria for anabolic-androgenic steroid dependence Am J Psychiatry. 2009 Jun; 166(6):642-5. . View in PubMed
  • Estrogen receptor immunoreactivity in late-gestation fetal lambs Biol Reprod. 2009 Jun; 80(6):1152-9. . View in PubMed
  • Neuroprotection against excitotoxic brain injury in mice after ovarian steroid depletion Brain Res. 2009 Apr 10; 1265:37-46. . View in PubMed
  • Cell proliferation and survival in the mating circuit of adult male hamsters: effects of testosterone and sexual behavior Horm Behav. 2008 Nov; 54(5):735-40. . View in PubMed
  • Memory, mood, dopamine, and serotonin in the 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine-lesioned mouse model of basal ganglia injury Neurobiol Dis. 2008 Nov; 32(2):319-27. . View in PubMed
  • Front Neuroendocrinol. 2008 Oct; 29(4):490-506. . View in PubMed
  • Adolescents and androgens, receptors and rewards Horm Behav. 2008 May; 53(5):647-58. . View in PubMed
  • Testosterone and nucleus accumbens dopamine in the male Syrian hamster Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2008 Apr; 33(3):386-94. . View in PubMed
  • Sex and drugs: comment on “Evidence for involvement of erbeta and rgs9-2 in 17-beta estradiol enhancement of amphetamine-induced place preference behavior” by Silverman and Koenig Horm Behav. 2007 Aug; 52(2):143-5. . View in PubMed
  • Partner preference in male hamsters: steroids, sexual experience and chemosensory cues Physiol Behav. 2007 May 16; 91(1):1-8. . View in PubMed
  • Region-specific mechanisms for testosterone-induced Fos in hamster brain Brain Res. 2007 Apr 13; 1141:197-204. . View in PubMed
  • Self-administration of estrogen and dihydrotestosterone in male hamsters Horm Behav. 2006 Apr; 49(4):519-26. . View in PubMed
  • Anabolic steroids: a fatal attraction? J Neuroendocrinol. 2006 Mar; 18(3):227-8.. View in PubMed
  • ICV testosterone induces Fos in male Syrian hamster brain Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2006 Feb; 31(2):237-49. . View in PubMed
  • Chemosensory cues are essential for mating-induced dopamine release in MPOA of male Syrian hamsters Neuropsychopharmacology. 2005 Aug; 30(8):1436-42. . View in PubMed
  • Intracerebroventricular self-administration of commonly abused anabolic-androgenic steroids in male hamsters (Mesocricetus auratus): nandrolone, drostanolone, oxymetholone, and stanozolol Behav Neurosci. 2005 Jun; 119(3):752-8. . View in PubMed
  • Reinforcing aspects of androgens Physiol Behav. 2004 Nov 15; 83(2):279-89. . View in PubMed
  • Circulating androgens enhance sensitivity to testosterone self-administration in male hamsters Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2004 Oct; 79(2):383-9. . View in PubMed
  • Testosterone self-administration in female hamsters Behav Brain Res. 2004 Sep 23; 154(1):221-9. . View in PubMed
  • Testosterone and chemosensory detection in male Syrian hamster Horm Behav. 2004 Sep; 46(3):341-8. . View in PubMed
  • Testosterone reinforcement: intravenous and intracerebroventricular self-administration in male rats and hamsters Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2004 Jan; 171(3):298-305. . View in PubMed
  • Steroidal control of male hamster sexual behavior in Me and MPOA: effects of androgen dose and tamoxifen Physiol Behav. 2001 Apr; 72(5):727-33. . View in PubMed