Messiah University's response to COVID-19

Messiah is in session this fall with flexible in-person and remote learning options, health and safety protocols and student care and support.


Member Profiles

Dr. Jennifer Thomson, Associate Professor of Biopsychology

Jennifer thomson

SPIRE Post-Doctoral Fellowship, University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill
Ph.D., University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill
B.S., Rider University


Teaching Interests:

Biological Basis of Behavior, Drug and Alcohol Addiction, Stress and Health, Sensation & Perception


Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Addiction, Stress and Health, Learning and Memory, Psychoneuroimmunology

Current Projects:    

Preventative treatments for posttraumatic stress disorder; Prayer as a mediator of the physiological stress response; Perceptions of anger, addiction and religious beliefs in online videogaming.

Recent Publications:

 McGinnis, C., Szczytkowski, J.L., Skinner, S. (In preparation).  Perceptions of Anger, Addiction and Religious Beliefs in Online Videogaming.

 Huston, L.W., Szczytkowski, J.L., Saurer, T.B., Lebonville, C.L., Fuchs, R.A., Lysle, D.T. (In Press).  Region-Specific Contribution of the VTA to Heroin-Induced Conditioned Immunomodulation.  Brain, Behavior and Immunity.

 Szczytkowski, J.L., Lebonville, C.L., Hutson, L.W., Fuchs, R.A., Lysle, D.T. (2013). Heroin-induced conditioned immunomodulation requires expression of IL-1B in the dorsal hippocampus.  Brain, Behavior and Immunity, 30, 95-102. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2013.01.076.

 Szczytkowski-Thomson, J.L., Lebonville, C.L., Lysle, D.T. (2013). Morphine prevents the development of stress-enhanced fear learning.  Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior, 103(3), 672-677.

 Szczytkowski, J.L., Fuchs, R.A., & Lysle, D.T. (2011). Ventral tegmental area-basolateral amygdala-nucleus accumbens shell neurocircuitry controls the expression of heroin-conditioned immunomodulation.  Journal of Neuroimmunology, 237, 47-56.

Szczytkowski, J.L., & Lysle, D.T.  (2011). Conditioned Immunomodulation. In T. Schachtman & S. Reilly (Eds.), Associative Learning and Conditioning: Human and Animal Applications.  (pp. 191-212). New York: Oxford University Press.

Szczytkowski, J.L., & Lysle, D.T. (2010) Dopamine D1 receptors within the basolateral amygdala mediate heroin-induced conditioned immunomodulation. Journal of Neuroimmunology, 226, 38-47.

Recent Research Talks:    


Szczytkowski, J.L. "Pavlovian conditioning with Opiate Drugs: Health Implications and Neural Circuitry". Penn State Hershey Medical Center.  Hershey, PA. Oct. 2013.

Szczytkowski, J.L.  “Heroin-Induced Conditioned Immunomodulation.” Pavlovian Society Annual Meeting. Milwaukee, WI. Oct.  2011.

Szczytkowski, J.L.  “Conditioned Immunomodulation.”  NIH Workshop: The Placebo Effect.  Bethesda, MD.  28 Jan. 2010.

Recent Poster Presentations:    

Szczytkowski-Thomson, J.L. (March 2014): Opioids prevent the expression of fear in an animal model of post-traumatic stress disorder.  Poster presented at the meeting of the Pennsylvania Academy of Science, Selinsgrove, PA.

Szczytkowski-Thomson, J.L. (October 2012). Morphine prevents the development of stress-enhanced fear learning in an animal model of PTSD.  Poster presented at the meeting of The Pavlovian Society, Jersey City, NJ.

Szczytkowski, J.L., Lebonville, C.L., & Lysle, D.T. (2011, October) Heroin-Induced Conditioned Immunomodulation: Neural Circuitry.  Poster presentation at the Pavlovian Society annual meeting, Milwaukee, WI.

Szczytkowski, J.L., & Lysle, D.T. (2010, April) Functional disconnection of the Ventral Tegmental Area-Basolateral Amygdala-Nucleus Accumbens Circuit Disrupts Heroin-Induced Conditioned Immunomodulation.  Poster presentation at the Society on Neuroimmune Pharmacology annual meeting, Manhattan Beach, CA.


Recent Student Presentations:

Pusey, J.M., Pigliacampi, C.L., Thomson, J.L. (May 2014). Pharmaceutical manipulation of fear learning in an animal model of Post-traumatic Stress disorder.  Abstract presented at the annual Research Symposium for the School of Science, Engineering and Health at Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, PA.

Garber, J., Sargent, C., Thomson, J. (April 2014).  How Prayer Mediates the Body's Physiological Response to Stressors.  Abstract presented at the Research Symposium for the School of business, Education and Social Sciences at Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, PA.


Spending time with family, genealogy, visiting civil war battlefields

Contact Information:

Boyer 383;; (717) 796-1800, ext. 2016