Jessica André

photo of Jessica Andre standing holding birds and with birds resting on her body

Dr. Jessica M. André holds a Ph.D. in Psychology and Neuroscience from Temple University. She is a professor at the University of Bridgeport in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Her work has mainly examined the underlying mechanisms of learning and memory as they relate to different neurological and mental disorders.

Jessica’s background in behavioral neuroscience originally focused on learning and memory as it relates to addiction. She has published several papers examining the effects of nicotine administration and withdrawal from chronic nicotine to better alleviate the “fog” effect many users feel while trying to quit smoking. She was also interested in people taking nicotine as a possible way to self-medicate because a larger percentage of people diagnosed with mental disorders such as schizophrenia and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) consume nicotine products at a higher rate than compared to the general population. For her doctorate dissertation work, Jessica focused on a transitive inference task ( if A>B and B>C, then A>C), a task for which some diagnosed with schizophrenia show poorer performance. She found this task relies on specific areas of the hippocampus. Furthermore, mice with a genetic mutation related to how nicotine has its effects in the brain also performed poorer in this task compared to control mice.

After completing her doctorate, Dr. André continued her research at Yale University working to better understand the underlying mechanisms that cause the symptoms observed in obsessive compulsive disorder and Tourette’s syndrome. Genetically modified animal models were excellent tools to uncover both the genes as well as the neural circuits which were altered in people diagnosed with these disorders. The findings from these studies suggest that the compulsions observed in these and other related disorders are the result of abnormally formed habits.

Jessica has been temporarily outside the lab to focus on teaching. In addition to teaching at the college level at Qunnipiac University and now the University of Bridgeport, she works with younger students through on ground and remote pre-college and gifted summer programs and is excited to join the Seminar on Science program and work with fellow teachers.