Location: Bowdoin / Richmond R. Thompson


Richmond Thompson

Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience
(on leave for 2017-18 academic year)

Contact Information


Richmond R. Thompson - Bowdoin Neuroscience


  • BS, 1989, Furman University (Biology / Psychology double major)
  • PhD, 1996 Cornell University (Biopsychology)
  • Postdoctoral Experience: Zoology Dept, Oregon State, 1996-1999

Research Interests:

My research focuses on how the brain processes social stimuli and on how it uses that information to organize behavioral output, especially emotional interactions between individuals. In particular, I am interested in the effects of sex steroids on brain structures that process social signals and that organize sexual and aggressive behaviors and in the role that neuropeptide brain circuits play in the modulation of social behavior. I have worked with several avian species (Japanese quail, zebra finches), an amphibian (roughskin newts), a teleost fish (goldfish) and a mammal (humans). I have used this comparative approach because I believe it is necessary to study species from a wide range of vertebrate groups in order to fully understand the general, mechanistic principles associated with the regulation of social behavior in vertebrates, as well as to appreciate how specializations of those fundamental systems have made species-specific patterns of social behavior possible in different organisms, including humans. I also use many different tools to answer these questions, including behavioral, neuroanatomical and molecular techniques.

Sources of Funding

Professor Thompson's Lab Page »

Goodson, J.L., Kelly, Kingsbury, MA, Thompson, RR (2012).  An aggressive-specific cell type in the anterior hypothalamus of finches.  Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, USA, in press.

Mangiamele, L, Thompson, RR (2012). Testosterone rapidly stimulates ejaculate volume and sperm density through an estrogenic membrane receptor mechanism in a competitive breeding fish. Hormones and Behavior Jul:62(2):107-12.

Godwin,J., Thompson RR (2012). Nonapeptides and social behavior in fish. Hormones and Behavior 61, 230-238.

Rilling, J. DeMarco, A., Hackett, P., Thompson, RR, Sitzen, B., Patel, R., Pagnon, G. (2012). Effects of intranasal oxytocin and vasopressin on cooperative behavior and associated brain activity. Psychoneuroendocrinology 37; 437-461.

Kelley, A., Kingsbury, M., Hoffbuhr, K*., Schrock, S., Waxman, B*., Kabelik, D., Thompson, R.R., Goodson, J. (2011).  Extended amygdala nonapeptide neurons and spetal V1a-like receptors potently modulate songbird flocking and responses to novelty. Hormones and Behavior, 6-, 12-21.

Searcy, B., Bradford, S., Thompson, R.R., Fitz, TM, Moore, FL (2011)  Idenfitication and characterization of mesotocin and V1a-like receptors in a urodele amphibian, Taricha granulosa.  General and Comparative Endocrinology 170; 131-143.

Goodson, JL and Thompson, RR (2010).  Nonapeptide mechanisms of social cognition, behavior, and species-specific social systems. Current Opinions in Neuroscience 20; 784-794.

Walton, J.C., Waxman, B.*, Hoffbuhr, K., Kennedy, M.*, Beth, E.*, Scangos, J.*, Thompson, R.R. (2010).  Behavioral effects of hindbrain vasotocin in goldfish are seasonally variable but not sexually dimorphic.  Neuropharmacology, 58(1), 126-134.

Lord, L.D.*, Bond, J.*, Thompson, R.R. (2009).  Rapid steroid influences on visually-guided sexual behavior in goldfish.  Hormones and Behavior, 56(5), 519-526.

Thompson, R.R. & Walton, J.C. (in press). Vasotocin immunoreactivity in goldfish brains: Characterizing primitive circuits associated with social regulation. Brain Behavior and Evolution.

Searcy, B., Walthers, E.A., Heppner, B.L., Thompson, R.R., Moore, F.L. (2009). Identification of mesotocin and vasotocin nucleotide dequences in two species of urodele amphibian. General and Comparative Endocrinology, 160 (2): 111-116.

Thompson, R. R., Dickinson, P. S., Rose, J. L., Dakin, K.*, Civiello, G.*, Segerdahl, A.*, and Bartlett, R.*. (2008). Pheromones enhance somatosensory processing in newt brains through a vasotocin-dependent mechanism. Proceedings of the Royal Society, Biological Sciences, UK, 275(1643); 1685-1693.

Thompson, R.R., Walton, J. C. Bhalla, R.*, George, K. C.*, Beth, E.C.* (2008). A primitive social cirsuit: Vasotocin-substance P interactions in the hindbrain influence social behavior through a peripheral feedback mechanism. European Journal of Neuroscience, 27(9); 2285-2293.

Thompson R.R., George K, Walton JC, Orr SP, Benson J., Sex-specific influences of vasopressin on human social communication. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences U S A. 2006 May 16;103(20):7889-94.
Abstract »

Thompson, R.R., George, K.,* Dempsey, J.,* & Walton, J.E. (2004) Visual sex discrimination in goldfish: seasonal, sexual and androgenic influences. Hormones and Behavior 2004 Dec;46(5):646-54.
Abstract »

Thompson, R.R. & Walton, J.C. 2004. Peptide effects on social behavior: the effects of vasotocin and isotocin on social approach behavior in male goldfish. Behavioral Neuroscience, 118(3), 620-626.

Thompson, R.R., Gupta, S.,* Miller, K., Mills, S., & Orr, S. 2004. Vasopressin effects on facial responses related to social communication in human males. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 29, 35-48.

Thompson, R.R. & Moore, F.L. 2003 The effects of testosterone and vasotocin on behavioral responses to visual and olfactory female sexual stimuli in ovariectomized female roughskin newts. Hormones and Behavior, 44, 311-318.

Thompson, R.R. & George, K.* 2003. Testing the relationship between endogenous testosterone and physiological responses to facial stimuli in human males: an experiment conducted in an undergraduate behavioral neuroscience laboratory course. Journal of Undergraduate Neuroscience Research, 1.

Thompson, R. & Moore, F. 2000. Vasotocin stimulates appetitive behavioral responses to the visual and olfactory stimuli used by male roughskin newts during courtship. Hormones and Behavior, 38, 75-85..

Thompson, R.R., Tokar, Z.,* Pistohl, D.* & Moore, F.L. 1999. Behavioral evidence for a sex-pheremone in roughskin newts, Taricha granulosa. In Advances in Chemical Signals in Vertebrates, ed. By R.E. Johnston, D. Muller-Schwartze, and P. Sorenson, pp 421-430, Plenum Press, New York.

Thompson, R.R., Goodson, J.L., Ruscio, M.G. & Adkins-Regan, E. 1998. Role of the archistriatal nucleus taeniae in the sexual behavior of male Japanese quail, (Coturnix japonica) : a comparison of function with the medial nucleus of the amygdala in mammals. Brain Behav. Evol., 51, 215-229.

Adkins-Regan, E., Mansukani, V., Thompson, R. & Yang, S. 1997. Organizational effects of sex hormones on sexual partner preferences in zebra finches. Brain Res. Bull., 44(4), 497-502.

Goodson, J.L., Eibach, R., Dukes, A., Friedman, M. Sakata, J., Thompson, R.R. & Adkins-Regan E. 1997. Neurobiology of social organization. Effects of lateral septum lesions in a territorial songbird, the field sparrow (Spizella pusilla), and a colonial songbird, the zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata). Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci., 807, 518-521.

Thompson, R.R., & Adkins-Regan, E. 1994. Photoperiod affects the morphology of a sexually dimorphic nucleus in the preoptic area of Japanese quail, Coturnix japonica. Brain Res., 667, 201-208.

Adkins-Regan, E., Mansukani, V., Seiwert, C. & Thompson, R. 1994. Sexual differentiation of brain and behavior in zebra finches. J Neurobiology, 15, 868-877.

Thompson, R.R. & Adkins-Regan, E. 1992. Development of a sexually dimorphic nucleus in the preoptic area of Japanese quail (Coturnix japonica). Dev. Brain Res., 70, 331-337.

  • Introductory Psychology (Psych 101)
  • Physiological Psychology (Psych 218)
  • Laboratory in Behavioral Neuroscience: Social Behavior (Psyc 275 formerly Techniques in Behavioral Neuroscience)
  • Hormones and Behavior (Psych 215)
  • Comparative Neuroanatomy (Psych 216)