Dr. David Euston

Phone: (403) 394-3970
e-mail: david.euston@gmail.com
Office: EP 1262
Lab: EP 1207

Research Interests

Damage to the prefrontal cortex, a part of the frontal lobes, can result in poor planning, unreasonable risk taking, and inappropriate social behaviour. The prefrontal cortex thus plays a crucial role in the decision making and emotional regulation that allow us, as humans, to function smoothly in our personal lives. The lives of rats are arguably simpler than our own, but they must solve many of the same everyday tasks as humans: deciding whom to fight and whom to befriend, knowing when to react in anger and when to appease, deciding when to keep searching (e.g., for food) or when to stay with what you have. Rats, too, have a prefrontal cortex which, anatomically, looks a lot like parts of the human prefrontal cortex and may serve a similar purpose. The functioning of this region in the rat’s brain is the focus of David Euston’s research. By looking at the activity of individual brain cells during complex decision-making tasks, he hopes to uncover how the prefrontal cortex integrates sensory input, memory, and emotional state to guide the rat in adaptive behaviour. Because many brain structures, including parts of the prefrontal cortex, are conserved across species, uncovering the computations served by the rat prefrontal cortex will hopefully shed light on the functioning of our own prefrontal cortex.


David Euston received his Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Oregon in 2000. His dissertation research, under the direction of Terry Takahashi, concerned the computation of sound source location in barn owl. David did postdoctoral work in the lab of Bruce McNaughton at the University of Arizona from 2000-2007, doing multi-electrode recording from hippocampus and frontal cortex. He was promoted to the position of research scientist in 2007. In 2008, David took a faculty position at the University of Lethbridge.


  • Ph.D. – University of Oregon.
  • MA – New Mexico State University.
  • B. A S. – University of California, Davis.

Recent Publications

  1. Euston, D.R., and Steenland, H.W. (2014). Memories–getting wired during sleep. Science 344, 1087-1088. (Invited Perspective Article).
  2. Himmler, BT, Kisko, TM, Euston, DR, Kolb, B, and Pellis, SM (2014). Are 50-kHz calls used as play signals in the playful interactions of rats? I. Evidence from the timing and context of their use. Behavioural Processes 106:60-66. doi: 10.1016/j.beproc.2014.04.014
  3. Skelin, I, Hakstol, R, VanOyen, J, Mudiayi, D, Molina, LA, Holec, V, Hong, NS, Euston, DR, McDonald, RJ, and Gruber, AJ (2014). Lesions of dorsal striatum eliminate lose-switch responding but not mixed-response strategies in rats. European Journal of Neuroscience. 39(10):1655-1663. doi: 10.1111/ejn.12518
  4. Holec, V, Pirot, HL, and Euston, DR (2014). Not all effort is equal: the role of the anterior cingulate cortex in different forms of effort-reward decisions. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience 8:12. doi: 10.3389/fnbeh.2014.00012
  5. Euston, DR, Gruber, AJ, and McNaughton, BL (2012). The Role of Medial Prefrontal Cortex in Memory and Decision Making. Neuron 76:1057-1070
  6. Johnson, LA, Euston, DR, Tatsuno, M, and McNaughton, BL (2010). Stored-trace reactivation in rat prefrontal cortex is correlated with down-to-up state fluctuation density. J Neurosci 30(7): 2650-2661
  7. Euston, DR, Tatsuno, M, and McNaughton, BL (2007). Fast-forward playback of recent memory sequences in prefrontal cortex during sleep. Science 318: 1147-50
  8. Euston DR, McNaughton BL (2006) Apparent encoding of sequential context in rat medial prefrontal cortex is accounted for by behavioral variability. J Neurosci 26:13143-13155.
  9. Bower MR, Euston DR, McNaughton BL (2005) Sequential-context-dependent hippocampal activity is not necessary to learn sequences with repeated elements. J Neurosci 25:1313-1323.