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Biol Psychiatry. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2010 May 15.
Published in final edited form as:
PMCID: PMC2716031

Incentive motivation, conditioning, stress, and neuropsychiatric disorders: A tribute to Jane Stewart

This issue of Biological Psychiatry is dedicated to the lifetime contributions of Jane Stewart (who retired in 2008) to the fields of psychology, psychiatry, psychopharmacology and neuroscience. Jane Stewart has been a leader whose contributions over the past half-century have profoundly influenced these fields. In an era of increasing specialization and exponential growth in the number of publications, her research interests have remained exceptionally broad, reflecting her genuine interest in understanding how the brain controls behavior. Jane is well known for her seminal contributions to the study of conditioned drug effects (1; 2), incentive motivational effects of drugs and drug cues (3), psychomotor sensitization and cross-sensitization with stress (4; 5), and the behavioral and neuronal mechanisms of relapse to drug seeking (6; 7). In addition, Jane, has made significant contributions to other areas of research, including circadian rhythms (8), stress (9), recovery of function after brain lesions (10), sex differences in drug effects (11), mechanisms of antidepressant and antipsychotic drugs (12; 13), pain (14), and sexual behavior (15; 16). In each of these diverse research areas, Jane's work is highly regarded. Jane has also been integrally involved in academic issues relating to science education and policy in Canada. Her former pre-doctoral and post-doctoral trainees hold academic positions at McGill University, University of Toronto, University of Chicago, University of Wisconsin, NIH, University of Rome, and many other academic institutions.

Jane Stewart received her Ph.D. in 1959 from the University of London, England. In her dissertation work she characterized the ability of a light cue to serve as an operant reinforcer in the rat (17; 18), a phenomenon that has become important many years later for the understanding of nicotine's rewarding effects (19). After completing her degree she worked as a Senior Research Biologist at Ayerst Pharmaceuticals, Montreal. She joined Concordia University (then Sir George Williams) in 1963, served as chair of the Department of Psychology from 1969-1974, and director of the Center for Studies in Behavioral Neurobiology (CSBN) from 1990-1997. She has served as both a member and chair of Canadian grant committees, including NSERC, MRC, CIHR and CFI and has been on the editorial board of 11 scientific journals, including Behavioral Neuroscience and Psychopharmacology. She has also been integrally involved in academic issues relating to science education and policy. Jane holds an honorary degree from Queen's University, is a Fellow of CPA, APA and AAAS, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, Academy of Sciences. On June 29th, 2007 she was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada for her scientific contributions, the highest civilian honor in her country for an academic researcher.

This Special Issue contains empirical papers and reviews that reflect her contributions both as a scientist and as an educator. The breadth of her scientific contributions is reflected in the diversity of topics included here in these papers by her collaborators, colleagues and trainees. As an educator, Jane has had a deep and lasting influence on all of us who were fortunate enough to work with her. Jane demands scholarship and precision from her trainees. Her genuine curiosity about the brain and behavior is infectious to those who work with her, and she is only satisfied with the most rigorous scientific standards to address the research questions. We will end our short introduction to the special issue by pointing out that Jane does not use many words in her scientific conversations. Her former trainees will recognize some of the principles that illustrate her succinct and practical approach to science:

  • --“Just do the work and everything will be fine.”
  • --“Do not worry about theory and interpretations before you have the data.”
  • --“We do not have hypotheses, we only have questions.”
  • --And our favorite phrase: “I do not understand, can you explain this to me again.”

We hope the diverse readership of Biological Psychiatry will find the Special Issue of interest, and we would like to thank John Krystal and Eric Nestler for supporting this issue.


The authors of this commentary are supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, extramural (HDW) and Intramural (YS) Research Program. The authors report no biomedical financial interests or potential conflicts of interest. We would like to thank Rhiannon Bugno (Managing Editor, Biological Psychiatry) and Rosa Garces (Publication Coordinator, Biological Psychiatry) for their help in organizing the Special Issue.


Publisher's Disclaimer: This is a PDF file of an unedited manuscript that has been accepted for publication. As a service to our customers we are providing this early version of the manuscript. The manuscript will undergo copyediting, typesetting, and review of the resulting proof before it is published in its final citable form. Please note that during the production process errors may be discovered which could affect the content, and all legal disclaimers that apply to the journal pertain.


1. Eikelboom R, Stewart J. Conditioning of drug-induced physiological responses. Psychol Rev. 1982;89:507–528. [PubMed]
2. Stewart J. Neurobiology of conditioning to drug abuse. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1992;654:335–346. [PubMed]
3. Stewart J, de Wit H, Eikelboom R. Role of unconditioned and conditioned drug effects in the self-administration of opiates and stimulants. Psychol Rev. 1984;91:251–268. [PubMed]
4. Flores C, Stewart J. Basic fibroblast growth factor as a mediator of the effects of glutamate in the development of long-lasting sensitization to stimulant drugs: studies in the rat. Psychopharmacology. 2000;151:152–165. [PubMed]
5. Kalivas PW, Stewart J. Dopamine transmission in the initiation and expression of drug- and stress-induced sensitization of motor activity. Brain Res Rev. 1991;16:223–244. [PubMed]
6. Shaham Y, Shalev U, Lu L, De Wit H, Stewart J. The reinstatement model of drug relapse: history, methodology and major findings. Psychopharmacology. 2003;168:3–20. [PubMed]
7. de Wit H, Stewart J. Reinstatement of cocaine-reinforced responding in the rat. Psychopharmacology. 1981;75:134–143. [PubMed]
8. Amir S, Stewart J. Resetting of the circadian clock by a conditioned stimulus. Nature. 1996;379:542–545. [PubMed]
9. Funk D, Stewart J. Role of catecholamines in the frontal cortex in the modulation of basal and stress-induced autonomic output in rats. Brain Res. 1996;741:220–229. [PubMed]
10. Kolb B, Stewart J, Sutherland RJ. Recovery of function is associated with increased spine density in cortical pyramidal cells after frontal lesions and/or noradrenaline depletion in neonatal rats. Behav Brain Res. 1997;89:61–70. [PubMed]
11. Forgie ML, Stewart J. Sex differences in amphetamine-induced locomotor activity in adult rats: role of testosterone exposure in the neonatal period. Pharmacology, biochemistry, and behavior. 1993;46:637–645. [PubMed]
12. Stewart J, Rajabi H. Initial increases in extracellular dopamine in the ventral tegmental area provide a mechanism for the development of desipramine-induced sensitization within the midbrain dopamine system. Synapse. 1996;23:258–264. [PubMed]
13. Samaha AN, Seeman P, Stewart J, Rajabi H, Kapur S. “Breakthrough” dopamine supersensitivity during ongoing antipsychotic treatment leads to treatment failure over time. J Neurosci. 2007;27:2979–2986. [PubMed]
14. Altier N, Stewart J. The role of dopamine in the nucleus accumbens in analgesia. Life Sci. 1999;65:2269–2287. [PubMed]
15. Mitchell JB, Stewart J. Facilitation of sexual behaviors in the male rat associated with intra-VTA injections of opiates. Pharmacology, biochemistry, and behavior. 1990;35:643–650. [PubMed]
16. Stewart J. How does incentive motivational theory apply to sexual behavior? In: Bancroft J, editor. The pharmacology of sexual function and dysfunction Proceedings of the Esteve Foundation Symposium VI. Amsterdam: Excerpta Medica (Elsevier Science B.V.); 1995. pp. 3–11.
17. Stewart J. Reinforcing effects of light as a function of intensity and reinforcement schedule. J Comp Physiol Psychol. 1960;53:187–193. [PubMed]
18. Stewart J, Hurwitz HMB. Studies in light-reinforced behaviour III. The effects of continuous, zero and fixed-ratio reinforcement. Quart J Exp Psychol. 1958;10:56–61.
19. Caggiula AR, Donny EC, White AR, Chaudhri N, Booth S, Gharib MA, et al. Cue dependency of nicotine self-administration and smoking. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2001;70:515–530. [PubMed]