Department of Psychology

Rachel A. Kohman


Dr. Rachel A. Kohman, Assistant Professor

Postdoctoral Fellow, The Beckman Institute, Univerisity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2009-2012.

Postdoctoral Fellow, Rutgers University, 2007-2009.
Ph.D., Behavioral Neuroscience, Texas Christian University, 2007.

Teaching Laboratory, Rm 3098

UNCW, 601 South College Road, Wilmington, NC 28403
(910) 962-3494 | | visit my lab website

My background is in interdisciplinary field of psychoneuroimmunology. The long-term goal of my research program is to determine the functional consequences of inflammation within the brain (i.e., neuroinflammation) as well as uncover the physiological mechanisms through which neuroinflammation disrupts cognitive function and measures of neural plasticity. A large focus of my work is in understanding how factors such as age, sex, and exercise influence the response to an immune challenge and subsequent effects on cognitive function. Currently, my lab is evaluating the contribution of age-related increases in neuroinflammation to cognitive decline and reductions in hippocampal neurogenesis and whether increasing physical activity can attenuate neuroinflammation. Additionally, we are investigating the neural mechanisms through which immune activation disrupts learning and memory. To address these and other questions my lab employs a variety of behavioral tests and biological techniques such as immunohistochemistry, real-time RT-PCR, ELISA, and confocal microscopy. The objective of this research is to gain a better understanding of the interactions between the brain and the immune system, identify the factors that initiate and sustain the development of low-grade chronic neuroinflammation in the aged, and facilitate development of novel therapeutic interventions.

Students interested in gaining research experience in my lab should contact me via the email address above.

Selected Publications

Littlefield AM, Setti SE, Priester C, Kohman RA. (2015). Voluntary exercise attenuates LPS-induced reductions in neurogenesis and increases microglia expression of a proneurogenic phenotype in aged mice. J Neuroinflammation. 30;12:138.

Setti SE, Littlefield AM, Johnson SW, Kohman RA. (2015). Diet-induced obesity attenuates endotoxin-induced cognitive deficits. Physiol Behav. 141:1–8.

Baumgarner KM, Setti S, Diaz C, Littlefield A, Jones A, Kohman RA. (2014). Diet-induced obesity attenuates cytokine production following an immune challenge. Behavioural Brain Research 267:33–41.

Kohman RA, Bhattacharya TK, Wojcik E, Rhodes JS. (2013). Exercise reduces activation of microglia isolated from hippocampus and brain of aged mice. J Neuroinflam., 10:114. 

Kohman RA., Bhattacharya TK., Kilby C., Bucko P., Rhodes JS. (2013). Effects of minocycline on spatial learning, hippocampal neurogenesis and microglia in aged and adult mice. Behavioural Brain Research, 242:17-24.

Kohman RA., Rhodes JS. (2013) Neurogenesis, inflammation and behavior. Brain Behav Immun. 27(1):22-32.

Kohman RA, DeYoung EK, Bhattacharya TK, Peterson LN, Rhodes JS. (2012). Wheel running attenuates microglia proliferation and increases expression of a proneurogenic phenotype in the hippocampus of aged mice. Brain Behav Immun. Jul, 26(5):803-10. PMID: 22056294.

Kohman RA, Clark PJ, Deyoung EK, Bhattacharya TK, Venghaus CE, Rhodes JS. (2012). Voluntary wheel running enhances contextual but not trace fear conditioning. Behav Brain Res. Jan 1, 226(1):1-7. PMID: 21896289.

Kohman RA., Rodriguez-Zas SL., Kelley KW., Dantzer R., Rhodes JS. (2011). Voluntary wheel running reverses age-induced changes in hippocampal gene expression. Plos One 6(8): e22654. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0022654.