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Genevra Hart

Post-Doctoral Research Associate


  • PhD in Behavioural Neuroscience, University of New South Wales (2012).

  • B. Advanced Science (Hons I), University of New South Wales (2007).

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Research interests

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.


  • Hart, G., Burton, T. J., & Balleine, B. W. (2024). What role does striatal dopamine play in goal-directed action? Neuroscience, 546, 20-32. Read More.

  • Hart, G., Burton, T. J., Nolan, C. R., & Balleine, B. W. (2024). Striatal dopamine release tracks the relationship between actions and their consequences. Cell Reports, 43(3), 113828. Read More.

  • Burton, T. J., Hart, G. & Balleine, B. W. (2022) What does dopamine release reveal about latent inhibition? Learning & Behavior. Read More.

  • Crimmins, B., Burton, T. J., McNulty, M., Laurent, V., Hart, G., & Balleine, B. W. (2022). Response-independent outcome presentations weaken the instrumental response-outcome association. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Learning and Cognition, 48(4), 396–412. Read More.

  • Balleine, B. W., Peak, J., Matamales, M., Bertran-Gonzalez, J., & Hart, G. (2021). The dorsomedial striatum: an optimal cellular environment for encoding and updating goal-directed learning. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, 41, 38-44. Read More.

  • Peak, J., Chieng, B., Hart, G., & Balleine, B. W. (2020). Striatal direct and indirect pathway neurons differentially control the encoding and updating of goal-directed learning. eLife, 9. Read More.

  • 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. Read more.


  • 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. Read More.


  • 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. Read More.


  • 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. Read More.


  • 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. Read More.


  • 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. Read More.


  • Hart, G. and Balleine, B. W. (2017). Medial striatum. Encyclopedia of animal cognition and behavior (Vonk J, Shackelford, eds). Basel, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing. Read More.


  • 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. Read More.


  • 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. Read More.


  • 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. Read More.


  • 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. Read More.

  • 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. Read More.


  • 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. Read More.

  • 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. Read More.

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