Dr. Christine V. Portfors

Interim Director of Research and Graduate Education - Associate Professor
Phone: (360) 546-9254
Fax: (360) 546-9064
Located in Dengerink Administration Building (VDEN) 210
Support Staff: Holly Davis
Support Staff: Wendy Niehaus

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


Course ID Title Meeting Time Location Semester Syllabus
Bio 353 Mammalian Physiology
Bio 456 Neuroethology
Bio 438 Animal Behavior

Graduate Students

Current Graduate Students:

Justin Hamilton

Elena Mahrt

Jenni Martin

Zachary Mayko

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

Recent Publications

Mayko, Z.M.,* Roberts, P.D. and Portfors, C.V. (2012). Inhibition shapes selectivity to vocalizations in the inferior colliculus of awake mice. Frontiers in Neural Circuits, 6:73. doi: 10.3389/fncir.2012.00073

Muniak, M*., Ryugo, D.K., Mayko, Z.M* and Portfors, C.V. (2012). An awake mouse preparation for recording neural response properties and injecting tracers. Journal of Visualized Experiments, 64, pii: 3755. doi: 10.3791/3755.

Portfors, C.V., Mayko, Z.M.*, Jonson, K.G**., Cha, G.** and Roberts, P.D. (2011). Spatial organization of receptive fields in the auditory midbrain of awake mouse. Neuroscience, 193, 429-439.

Wenstrup, J.J. and Portfors, C.V. (2011). Neural processing of target distance by echolocating bats: Functional roles of the auditory midbrain. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 35, 2073-2083.

Holmstrom, L*., Eeuwes, L, Roberts, P.D. and Portfors, C.V. (2010). Efficient encoding of behaviorally relevant sounds in the auditory midbrain. Journal of Neuroscience, 30, 802-819.

Portfors, C.V., Jonson, K.G**. and Roberts, P.D. (2009). Over-representation of species-specific vocalizations in the awake mouse inferior colliculus. Neuroscience, 162, 486-500.

Holmstrom L*, Kim S, McNames J, Portfors C.V. (2009). Stimulus design for auditory neuroethology using state space modeling and the extended Kalman smoother. Hearing Research, 247, 1-16.

Roberts P.D. and Portfors C.V. (2008). Design principles of sensory processing in cerebellum-like structures. Early stage processing of electrosensory and auditory objects. Biological Cybernetics, 98, 491-507.

Holmstrom, L*, Roberts, P.D. and Portfors, C.V. (2007).  Responses to social vocalizations in the inferior colliculus of the mustached bat are influenced by secondary tuning curves. Journal of Neurophysiology, 98, 3461-3472.

Felix, R.A*. and Portfors, C.V. (2007) Excitatory, inhibitory and facilitatory frequency response areas in the inferior colliculus of hearing impaired mice. Hearing Research. 228, 212-229.

Portfors, C.V. and Roberts, P.D. (2007) Temporal and frequency characteristics of cartwheel cells in the dorsal cochlear nucleus of the awake mouse. Journal of Neurophysiology. 98, 744-756.

 Portfors C.V. (2007) The Nuclei of the Lateral Lemniscus: Two Functional Systems. In: The Senses: A Comprehensive Reference, Vol. 3 Audition. (eds. P. Dallos and D. Oertel, editors), Academic Press,San Diego, pp. 751-758.

Hoxeng, C.M*., Apling, M**. Ritson, P.I. and Portfors, C.V. (2007). Light-tagging disrupts social dynamics of bat harems. Acta Chiroptologica, 9,161-169.

Portfors, C.V. (2007). Types and functions of ultrasonic vocalizations in laboratory rats and mice. Journal of the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science, 46, 28-34.