Dr. Christine V. Portfors

Associate Vice Chancellor of Research and Graduate Education - Professor
Phone: (360) 546-9254
Located in Dengerink Administration Building (VDEN) 210
Support Staff: Holly Davis

I am interested in the broad question of how an organism's physiological processes have adapted to its particular ecological environment. Research in my lab focuses on how vocal signals communicate information and how the brain of the receiver encodes this information. We are particularly interested in two aspects of animal communication; courtship, including male vocalizations and female responses to them, and maintenance of social structures. The work on courtship currently focuses on mice because of their rich repertoire of social vocalizations, the advantages of genetic engineering to address specific mechanistic questions, and their ease of housing in a lab setting. We also work with bats and currently maintain a colony of short-tailed fruit bats (Carollia perspicillata). This is a highly vocal species with a harem social structure. We are interested in the types of vocalizations both males and females use in social interactions, and the underlying mechanisms involved in receiving these signals.

I utilize a systems-level neuroethological approach that makes use of my broad academic training from behavior to neurophysiology and neuroanatomy. My research at WSU Vancouver has been generously funded by NIH and NSF.

To see a video highlighting our research go to: http://www.nsf.gov/news/special_reports/science_nation/soundsofsurvival.jsp


To visit our lab website go to:  https://labs.wsu.edu/hearcomm/

Graduate Students

Current Graduate Students:

Elena Mahrt - Zoology

Jeffrey Hoyt - Neuroscience

Matt Lambert - Zoology

If you are interested in graduate studies in my lab, please email me.

Recent Publications

Nevue, A.A**., Elde, C.**, Perkel, D.J. and Portfors, C.V. (2016). Dopaminergic inputs to the inferior collicus. Frontiers in Neuroanatomy. 9:168. Doi: 10.3389/fnana.2015.00168

Portfors, C.V. (2016) Auditory Processing. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd: Chichester. DOI: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0000017.pub2

Roberts, P.D. and Portfors, C.V. (2015). Responses to social vocalizations in the dorsal cochlear nucleus of mice. Frontiers in System Neuroscience. 9:172. Doi: 10.3389/fnsys.2015.00172.

Yang, M., Mahrt, E.J*., Lewis, F., Foley, G., Portmann, T., Dolmetsch, R.E., Portfors, C.V., Crawley, J.N. (2015). 16p11.2 deletion syndrome mice display sensory and ultrasonic Vocalization deficits during social interactions. Autism Research. doi: 10.1002/aur.1465. [Epub ahead of print]

Portfors, C.V. and Perkel, D.J. (2014). The role of mouse ultrasonic vocalizations in communication. Current Opinions in Neurobiology, 28C, 115-120. Doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2014.07.002.

Dimitrov, A., Mayko, Z.M*, Cummins, G. and Portfors, C.V. (2014). Inhibition does not affect the timing code for vocalizations in the auditory midbrain. Frontiers in Integrative Physiology, 5:140. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2014.00140

Portfors C.V. and Roberts, P.D.  (2014). Mismatch of structural and functional tonotopy for natural sounds in the auditory midbrain. Neuroscience, 258, 192-203. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2013.11.012.

Neilans, E*., Holfoth, D**., Radziwon, K**., Portfors, C. and Dent, M.  (2014). Discrimination of ultrasonic vocalizations by CBA/CaJ mice (Mus musculus) is related to spectrotemporal dissimilarity of vocalizations. PlosONE, 9(1):e85405. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0085405.

Portfors, C.V. and von Gersdorff H. (2013). Macrocircuits for sound localization use leaky coincidence detectors and specialized synapses. Neuron. 78, 755-757.

Gittelman, J.X., Perkel, D.J. and Portfors, C.V. (2013). Dopamine modulates auditory responses in the inferior colliculus in a heterogeneous manner. JARO: Journal of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology, 14, 719-729.

Woolley S.M.N., and  Portfors, C.V. (2013). Conserved mechanisms of vocalization coding in mammalian and songbird auditory midbrain. Invited review. Hearing Research, 305, 45-56. doi: 10.1016/j.hearres.2013.05.005.

Mahrt, E.J*., Perkel, D.J., Tong, L., Rubel, E.W and Portfors, C.V. (2013). Engineered deafness reveals that mouse courtship vocalizations are innate. Journal of Neuroscience, 33, 5573-5583. Doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5054-12.2013.