Eric Wiertelak

Eric Wiertelak

DeWitt Wallace Professor
Director, Neuroscience Studies

Olin-Rice Science Center, 324
Telephone: 651-696-6111

Office Hours

By appointment

A current focus in the Wiertelak research laboratory is the investigation of the neural correlates of dance and dance performance. Recent and ongoing projects include examination of partnering decisions in hip-hop, modern and ballroom dance; differential observation in dance based on experience level, physiological correlates of observing dance. For further information on this general topic in neuroscience, see:

The Neuroscience of Dance
; July 2008; Scientific American Magazine; by Steven Brown and Lawrence M. Parsons; 6 Page(s)
The Dancing Brain ; April 2003; Cerebrum; by Ivar Hagendoorn; 12 Page(s)

Wiertelak is the director of Macalester's Neuroscience Studies major program. A past-president of Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience (the international organization devoted to neuroscience education and research at the undergraduate level), he is a behavioral neuroscientist. His lab has several areas of current focus: 1) The systematic investigation of the claimed psychoactive effects of natural remedies and aromatherapeutic agents. This work received funding from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at the National Institutes of Health. 2) Behavioral and physiological research to investigate how environmental stressors and learning impact on neurophysiological response mechanisms, such as pain modulation. This work received funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse at the National Institutes of Health. 3) Behavioral and electrophysiolological research to investigate the neural systems involved in the organization of a variety of motor and cognitive aspects of dance and dance performance (hip-hop, modern, and ballroom). He teaches courses related to behavioral neuroscience, sensation, and principles of learning.

  • BA: University of Central Florida
  • MA: University of Colorado, Boulder
  • PhD: University of Colorado, Boulder

Selected publications

Wiertelak, E.P. and Ramirez, J.J. (2008). Undergraduate neuroscience Education: Blueprints for the 21st Century. Journal of Undergraduate Neuroscience Education, 6 (2), 34-39.

Wiertelak, E.P. (2007). Toward a better neuroscience tomorrow: Thoughts on the Society for Neuroscience and the undergraduate. Journal of Undergraduate Neuroscience Education, 5 (2), 15-16.

Hardwick, J.C., Kerchner, M., Lom, B., Ramirez, J.J. and Wiertelak, E.P. (2006). Encouraging Innovation in Undergraduate Neuroscience Education by Supporting Student Research and Faculty Development. CBE Life Science Education (5), 86-90.

Wiertelak, E.P. (2002). And the winner is: Inviting Hollywood into the neuroscience classroom. Journal of Undergraduate Neuroscience Education, 1 (1), 4-17.

Wiertelak, E.P., Koski, D., Carriere, J.*, Stamschror, S.*, and Robins, S.* (2002). Thalidomide blockade of lipopolysaccharide- and lithium chloride-induced hyperalgesias. Analgesia, 6, 11-18.

Wiertelak, E.P., Roemer, B.*, Maier, S.F., Watkins, L.R. (1997). Comparison of the effects of nucleus tractus solitarius and ventral medial medulla lesions on illness-induced and subcutaneous foralin-induced hyperalgesias. Brain Research , 748, 143-150.

Wiertelak, E.P., Smith K.P.*, Furness, L.*, Mooney-Heiberger, K.*, Mayr, T., Maier, S.F., and Watkins, L.R. (1994). Acute and conditioned hyperalgesic responses to illness. Pain, 56, 227-234.

Wiertelak, E.P., Maier, S.F., and Watkins, L.R. (1992). Cholecystokinin antianalgesia: Safety cues abolish morphine analgesia. Science, 256, 830-833