Robyn Crook


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Photo of Professor Robyn Crook
Assistant Professor of Biology
Neurobiology, Animal Behavior, Comparative Physiology


I am an evolutionary biologist and behavioral neuroscientist. My lab studies the evolution and function of higher cognitive states, primarily pain. Our main animal models are cephalopods, and techniques in my lab include electrophysiology, genomics, and behavioral assays. We focus on plasticity in primary nociceptive neurons, looking at how this plasticity is mediated at the molecular level, and in turn, how this cellular plasticity mediates changes in neural circuits, behaviors and ultimately, the fitness of individual animals coping with injury or other painful experiences. I have a long standing interest in the ethical basis of research animal regulation, and in the philosophical views of scientists and members of the public relating to the use of various animal species in scientific research. Through our lab's work on the evolution and functions of pain, we seek to advance the fields of sensory neurobiology, animal behavior and physiology, and in parallel inform the debate over appropriate levels of protection for invertebrate animals used in research.

Selected publications:

Crook, R.J. and Walters, E.T (2014). Self-recognition helps octopuses avoid entanglement. Curr. Biol. 24(11) 520-521

Yang, Q., Wu, Z., Hadden, J., Odem, M., Zuo, Y., Crook, R.J., Frost, J. and Walters, E.T. (2014) Persistent pain after spinal cord injury is maintained by primary afferent activity. J. Neurosci.34(32) 10765-10769

Crook, R.J., Dickson, K.D., Hanlon, R.T and Walters, E.T. (2014). Nociceptive sensitization reduces predation risk. Curr. Biol. 24(10) 1121-1125

Alupay, J.S., Hadjisolomou, S.P and Crook, R.J. (2014). Arm injury produces long-term behavioral and neural hypersensitivity in octopus. Neurosci. Lett. 558, 137-142

Crook, R.J., Hanlon, R.T. and Walters, E.T. (2013). Squid have nociceptors that display long term sensitization and spontaneous activity after bodily injury. J. Neurosci. 33(24) 10021-10026 (cover story)

Crook, R.J. (2013). The welfare of invertebrates in research: Can science’s next generation improve their lot? J. Postdoct. Res, 1(2) 9-20

Wu. Z., Yang, Q., Crook, R.J., O'Neil, R.G. and Walters, E.T. (2013). TRPV1 channels make major contributions to behavioral hypersensitivity and spontaneous activity in nociceptors after spinal cord injury. Pain 154(10) 2130-2141

Matthias, N., Robinson, M.A., Crook, R.J., Lockworth, C.R. and Goodwin, B.S. (2013). Local cryoanalgesia is effective for tail-tip biopsy in mice. JAALS 52(2) 171-175

Crook, R.J., and Basil, J.A. (2013). Flexible spatial orientation and navigational strategies in Chambered Nautilus. Ethology 119(1) 77-85

Crook, R.J. and Walters, E.T. (2011). Nociceptive behavior and physiology in molluscs: Animal welfare implications. ILAR 52 (2) 185-19

Crook, R.J., Lewis, T., Hanlon, R.T and Walters, E.T. (2011). Peripheral injury produces long-term sensitization of responses to tactile and visual stimuli in squid, Loligo pealei. J. Exp. Biol. 214 3173-3185

Crook, R.J. and Walters, E.T. (2011). Nociceptive behavior and physiology in molluscs: Animal welfare implications. ILAR 52 (2) 185-195