Dr Generva Hart
Postdoctoral Research Associate

Dr Generva Hart


B. Advanced Science (Hons I), University of New South Wales, 2007
PhD in Behavioural Neuroscience, University of New South Wales, 2012

Research area and interest

Functional Circuitry for Goal-directed Learning
Goal-directed action selection is central to the executive functioning of humans and other animals, and allows animals to select actions according to current needs and knowledge of the relative value of available goals or outcomes. My research is focussed on identifying the pathways involved in goal-directed learning and performance, with particular emphasis on the corticostriatal circuit centred on the posterior dorsomedial striatum. I have established that the acquisition of goal-directed actions relies on the bilateral corticostriatal pathway from intratelecephalic neurons in the prelimbic cortex projecting directly to the posterior dorsomedial striatum, and ongoing work is aimed at establishing the precise role of these neurons in learning, their temporal involvement across the course of learning and indeed how they interact with other cortical and sub-cortical regions to facilitate goal-directed learning. I am also involved in several projects aimed at understanding how goal-directed actions are acquired and expressed at the level of basal ganglia pathways, including striatal direct and indirect pathway projections, and dopaminergic inputs to the dorsal striatum. These projects involve a combination functional behavioural investigation, using viral-based optogenetic and chemogenetic manipulations, and measurement of neuronal correlates of behaviour with immunofluorescence and in-vivo fiber photometry.


  • Bradfield, L.A. and Hart, G. (2020). Rodent medial and lateral orbitofrontal cortices represent unique components of cognitive maps of task space. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 108, 287-294. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neubiorev.2019.11.009
  • Kyme, A. Z., Angelis, G. I., Eisenhuth, J., Fulton, R. R., Zhou, V., Hart, G., Popovic, K., Akhtar, M., Ryder, W. J., Clemens, K. J., Balleine, B. W., Parmar, A. Pascali, G., Perkins, G. and Meikle, S. (2019). Open-Field PET: Simultaneous brain functional imaging and behavioural response measurements in freely moving small animals. NeuroImage, 188, 92-101. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2018.11.051
  • Peak, J., Hart, G., and Balleine, B. W. (2019). From learning to action: the integration of dorsal striatal input and output pathways in instrumental conditioning. European Journal of Neuroscience, 49, 658-671. https://doi.org/10.1111/ejn.13964
  • Bradfield, L. A., Hart, G., and Balleine, B. W. (2018). Inferring action-dependent outcome representations depends on anterior but not posterior medial orbitofrontal cortex. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, 155, 463-473. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nlm.2018.09.008
  • Hart, G., Bradfield, L. A., Fok, S. Y., Cheing, B. and Balleine, B. W. (2018). the bilateral prefronto-striatal pathway is necessary for learning new goal-directed actions. Current Biology, 28, 2218-2229. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2018.05.028
  • Hart, G., Bradfield, L. A. and Balleine, B. W. (2018). Prefrontal corticostriatal disconnection blocks the acquisition of goal-directed action. Journal of Neuroscience, 38, 1311-1322. https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2850-17.2017
  • Hart, G. and Balleine, B. W. (2017). Medial striatum. Encyclopedia of animal cognition and behavior (Vonk J, Shackelford, eds). Basel, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-47829-6_1288-1
  • Hart, G. and Balleine. B. W. (2016). Consolidation of goal-directed action depends on MAPK/ERK signaling in rodent prelimbic cortex. Journal of Neuroscience, 36, 11974-11986. https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1772-16.2016
  • Hart, G., Holmes, N. M., Harris, J. A. and Westbrook, R. F. (2014). Benzodiazepine administration prevents the use of error-correction mechanisms during fear extinction. Learning and Behavior, 42, 383-397. https://doi.org/10.3758/s13420-014-0155-9
  • Hart, G., Panayi, M. C., Harris, J. A. and Westbrook, R. F. (2014). Benzodiazepine treatment can impair or spare extinction, depending on when it is given. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 56, 22-29. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brat.2014.02.004
  • Hart, G., Leung, B. K. and Balleine, B. W. (2014). Dorsal and ventral streams: The distinct role of striatal subregions in the acquisition and performance of goal-directed actions. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, 108, 104-118. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nlm.2013.11.003
  • Bradfield, L. A., Hart, G. and Balleine, B.W. (2013). The role of the anterior, mediodorsal and parafascicular thalamus in instrumental conditioning. Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience, 7, 51. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnsys.2013.00051
  • Hart, G., Harris, J. A. and Westbrook, R. F. (2010). Systemic or intra-amygdala infusion of the benzodiazepine, midazolam, impairs learning, but facilitates re-learning to inhibit fear responses in extinction. Learning and Memory, 17, 210-220. doi: 10.1101/lm.1682410 Learn. Mem. 2010. 17: 210-220
  • Hart, G., Harris, J. A. and Westbrook, R. F. (2009). Systemic or intra-amygdala injection of a benzodiazepine (midazolam) impairs extinction but spares re-extinction of conditioned fear responses. Learning & Memory, 16, 53-61. doi: 10.1101/lm.1154409 Learn. Mem. 2009. 16: 53-61