Leah C. Wilson

Visiting Assistant Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience

Teaching this semester

NEUR 2050/PSYC 2050. Physiological Psychology

An introductory survey of biological influences on behavior. The primary emphasis is on the physiological regulation of behavior in humans and other vertebrate animals, focusing on genetic, developmental, hormonal, and neuronal mechanisms. Additionally, the evolution of these regulatory systems is considered. Topics discussed include perception, cognition, sleep, eating, sexual and aggressive behaviors, and mental disorders.

PSYC 2520. Data Analysis, B

An introduction to the use of descriptive and inferential statistics and design in behavioral research. Weekly laboratory work in computerized data analysis. Required of majors no later than the junior year, and preferably by the sophomore year.

My research is motivated by two central questions: 1) what are the neuroendocrine mechanisms of social behavior, and 2) how do neuroendocrine mechanisms generate individual and species differences in behavior? My previous work focused on the neuroendocrine mechanisms that generate seasonal variation in group size in sparrows. At Bowdoin, I am exploring how different neurochemical systems organize social behavior in a two species of teleost fish, the zebrafish and the goldfish.


  • Ph.D. , Indiana University; Bloomington, IN
  • M.S., College of William & Mary; Williamsburg, VA
  • B.A., Oberlin College; Oberlin, OH

Personal Website


Wilson, L.C., Goodson, J.L, Kingsbury, M.A. 2016. Seasonal variation in group size is related to seasonal variation in neuropeptide receptor density. Brain Behavior Evolution. 88:111-126.

Kingsbury, M.A., Wilson, L.C., 2016. The role of VIP in social behavior: Neural hotspots for the modulation of affiliation, aggression, and parental care. Integrative and Comparative Biology. 56:1238-1249.

Wilson, L.C. and Swaddle, J.P. 2013. Manipulating the perceived opportunity to cheat: An experimental test of the active roles of male and female zebra finches in mate guarding behavior. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. 67:1077-1087.

Goodson, J. L., Wilson, L.C., Schrock, S.E. 2012. To flock or fight: Neurochemical signatures of divergent life histories in sparrows. PNAS, "In the Light of Evolution. VI: Brain and Behavior" invited colloquium submission. 29:10685–10692.

Owen, J.C., Moore, F.R., Williams, A.J., Miller, E.A., Wilson, L.C., Morley, V., Abbey-Lee, R.N., Veeneman,B.A., DeRussey, B., McWhorter, M., and Garvin, M.C. 2010. Test of recrudescence hypothesis for overwintering of West Nile virus in gray catbirds. Journal of Medical Entomology. 47:451-457.