Sam Bacharach

Postdoctoral Fellow


Postdoctoral Fellow, Monell Chemical Senses Center


Ph.D., Neuroscience, University of Maryland, Baltimore

Laboratory Of

Dr. Amber Alhadeff

Research Summary

A primary reason we eat is to fulfill a homeostatic need to obtain calories and alleviate the aversive experience of hunger. However, eating also occurs because it is pleasurable and rewarding, even when we don’t physiologically need the calories. I am interested in understanding how signaling in homeostatic and reward centers of the brain drives these two distinct motivators of feeding behavior. Further, I am interested in exploring how individual differences in feeding behavior and obesity are mediated by the influence of gut-brain communication on sensory processing and learning about food-related cues. To this end, I combine in vivo neural activity monitoring with state-of-the-art gut and brain manipulations to investigate how homeostatic and reward systems influence feeding behavior and motivation.


food intake, reward, gut-brain axis, learning, obesity, biosensor imaging

Representative Publications

Keefer SE, Bacharach SZ, Kochli DE, Chabot J, Calu DJ. (2020). Effects of limited and extended Pavlovian training on devaluation sensitivity in sign- and goal-tracking rats. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience. 2020 February 4. DOI: 10.3389/fnbeh.2020.00003.

Bacharach SZ, Calu DJ. (2019). Stability of individual differences in sucralose taste preference. PLOS One. 2019 May 14; 14(5). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0216431.

Bacharach SZ, Nasser HM, Zlebnik NE, Dantrassy HM, Cheer JF, Calu DJ. (2018). Cannabinoid receptor-1 signaling contributions to sign-tracking and conditioned reinforcement in rats. Psychopharmacology. 2018 August 14; 235(10). DOI:10.1007/s00213-018-4993-6.

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