Nathan Insel, Ph.D.

Nathan Insel, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Behavioral & Systems Neuroscience

Office: Skaggs 362
Email: nathan.insel@umontana.edu

Personal Website



  • Fundamentals of Biological Psychology (PSYX 250)


  • Advanced Physiological Psychology (PSYX 571)
  • Research Design (PSYX 523)

Personal Summary

Dr. Nathan Insel runs a research program studying how Neural Interactions support Social Expectations and Learning (NInSEL laboratory, also on Twitter).  The NInSEL lab employs a range of behavioral and neural techniques to examine how the mammalian forebrain acquires knowledge about other individuals. This includes studying how animals use action-observation cycles to reduce uncertainty about others and establish stable social relationships.  Experiments are primarily performed in degus, a small Chilean rodent with a rich repertoire of social behaviors. Those interested in participating in the NInSEL lab should contact: nathan.insel@umontana.edu

Classes taught by Dr. Insel emphasize how to test and understand mechanisms of psychological phenomena. 




BA: Oberlin College
MA: University of Arizona
PhD: University of Arizona
Postdoctoral  studies: University of Toronto, CAMH, University of Toronto Scarborough, Hospital for Sick Children


Insel N., Richards B. Relevance learning via inhibitory plasticity and its implications for schizophrenia https://doi.org/10.1101/161331

Pilkiw M, Insel N, Cui Y, Finney C, Morrissey MD, Takehara-Nishiuchi K. Phasic and tonic neuron ensemble codes for stimulus-environment conjunctions in the lateral entorhinal cortex. ELife, 2017. [pubmed]

Lidhar NK, Insel N, Dong JY, Takehara-Nishiuchi K. Observational fear learning in degus is correlated with temporal vocalization patterns. Behavioral Brain Research, 2017 [pubmed]

Morrissey M, Insel N, Takehara-Nishiuchi K Generalizable knowledge outweighs incidental details in prefrontal ensemble code over time. ELife, 2017 [pubmed]

Volle j, Yu X, Sun H, Tanninen SE, Insel N, Takehara-Nishiuchi K. Enhancing prefrontal neuron activity enables associative learning of temporally disparate events. Cell Reports 2016 [pubmed]

Park S, Kramer EE, Mercaldo V, Rashid AJ, Insel N, Frankland PW, Josselyn SA. Neural allocation to a hippocampal engram. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2016. [pubmed].

Insel N, Pilkiw M, Nobrega JN, Hutchison WD, Takehara-Nishiuchi K, Hamani C. Chronic deep brain stimulation of the rat ventral medial prefrontal cortex disrupts prefrontal coherence.  Experimental Neurology 2015 [pubmed]

Insel N, Frankland PW. Mechanism, function, and computation in neural systems. Behavioural Processes 2014 [pubmed]

Hsiang HL, Epp J, van den Oever M, Yan C, Rashid A, Insel N, Ye L, Niibori Y, Deisseroth K, Frankland P, Josselyn S. Manipulating a “cocaine engram” in mice. Journal of Neuroscience 2014 [pubmed]

Insel N, Barnes CA. Differential activation of fast-spiking and regular-firing neuron populations during movement and reward in the dorsal medial frontal cortex. Cerebral Cortex 2014 [pubmed]

Insel N, Takehara-Nishiuchi K. The cortical structure of consolidated memory: a hypothesis on the role of the cingulate-entorhinal cortical connection Neurobiology of Learning and memory 2013 [pubmed]

Insel N, Patron LA, Hoang LT, Nematollahi S, Schimanski LA, Lipa P, Barnes CA. Reduced gamma frequency in the medial frontal cortex of aged rats during behavior and rest: implications for age-related behavioral slowing. Journal of Neuroscience 2012 32(46):16331-44 [pubmed]

Takehara-Nishiuchi K, Insel N, Hoang LT, Wagner Z, Olson K, Chawla MK, Burke SN, Barnes CA. Activation patterns in superficial layers of neocortex change between experiences independent of behavior, environment, or the hippocampus. Cerebral Cortex 2012 [pubmed]

Insel N, Ruiz-Luna ML, Permenter M, Vogt J, Ericsson CA, Barnes CA. Aging in rhesus macaques is associated with changes in novelty preference and altered saccade dynamics. Behavioral Neuroscience 2008 122(6):1328-42 [pubmed]

Vazdarjanova A, Ramirez-Amaya V, Insel N, Plumier TK, Rosi S, Chowdhury S, Mkhael D, Worley PF, Guzowski JF, Barnes CA. Spatial exploration induces ARC, a plasticity-related immediate-early gene, only in calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II-positive principle excitatory and inhibitory neurons of the rat forebrain. Journal of Comparative Neurology. 2006. 498(3):317-29 [pubmed]

Poe GR, Teed RG, Insel N, White R, McNaughton BL, Barnes CA, Partial hippocampal inactivation: effects on spatial memory performance in aged and young rats. Behavioral Neuroscience 2000 114(5):940-9 [pubmed]