Shawn K. Acheson, PhD


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Assistant Professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Department / Division:
Psychiatry / Translational Neuroscience
508 Fulton Street (151)
Durham, NC 27705
Office Telephone:
  • PhD, Clinical-Experimental Psychology, Southern Illinois University–Carbondale, 1997
  • Internship, Clinical Neuropsychology-Behavioral Medicine, Duke University Medical Center, 1995-1996
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship, Behavioral Neuroscience-Clinical Neuropsychology, Duke University Medical Center
Clinical Interests:
Application of clinical neuropsychology in forensic settings, neuropsychological evaluations to establish competency concerning TBI or neurodegenerative disorders
Research Interests:
In collaboration with Dr. Scott Swartzwelder, research in our lab has focused on the neurodevelopmental effects of alcohol and other drugs of abuse. In particular, we have been interested in how and why adolescents are more sensitive to some effects of ethanol and THC (e.g., learning and memory) and less sensitive to other effects (e.g., sedation). Beginning in Fall 2011, my lab will begin a new line of research focused on potential pharmacotherapies for TBI and the basic underlying mechanisms of recovery of function following acquired brain injury. This work is funded by a Career Development Award from the Veterans Administration Biomedical Laboratory Research & Development service.
Representative Publications:
  • Acheson, SK; Moore, NL; Kuhn, CM; Wilson, WA; Swartzwelder, HS. The synthetic cannabinoid WIN 55212-2 differentially modulates thigmotaxis but not spatial learning in adolescent and adult animals. Neuroscience Letters. 2011;487:411-414.  Abstract
  • Fleming, RL; Acheson, SK; Moore, SD; Wilson, WA; Swartzwelder, HS. GABA transport modulates the ethanol sensitivity of tonic inhibition in the rat dentate gyrus. Alcohol. 2011;45:577-583.  Abstract
  • Moore, NL; Greenleaf, AL; Acheson, SK; Wilson, WA; Swartzwelder, HS; Kuhn, CM. Role of cannabinoid receptor type 1 desensitization in greater tetrahydrocannabinol impairment of memory in adolescent rats. The Journal of pharmacology and experimental therapeutics. 2010;335:294-301.  Abstract
  • White, AM; Jordan, JD; Schroeder, KM; Acheson, SK; Georgi, BD; Sauls, G; Ellington, RR; Swartzwelder, HS. Predictors of relapse during treatment and treatment completion among marijuana-dependent adolescents in an intensive outpatient substance abuse program. Substance Abuse. 2004;25:53-59.  Abstract
  • Acheson, SK; Ross, EL; Swartzwelder, HS. Age-independent and dose-response effects of ethanol on spatial memory in rats. Alcohol. 2001;23:167-175.  Abstract
  • Abou-Donia, MB; Abdel-Rahman, AA; Kishk, AM; Walker, D; Markwiese, BJ; Acheson, SK; Reagan, KE; Swartzwelder, S; Jensen, KF. Neurotoxicity of ethyl methacrylate in rats. Journal of Toxicology & Environmental Health: Part A. 2000;59:97-118.  Abstract
  • Acheson, SK; Richardson, R; Swartzwelder, HS. Developmental changes in seizure susceptibility during ethanol withdrawal. Alcohol. 1999;18:23-26.  Abstract
  • Acheson, SK; Stein, RM; Swartzwelder, HS. Impairment of semantic and figural memory by acute ethanol: age-dependent effects. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. 1998;22:1437-1442.  Abstract
  • Markwiese, BJ; Acheson, SK; Levin, ED; Wilson, WA; Swartzwelder, HS. Differential effects of ethanol on memory in adolescent and adult rats. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. 1998;22:416-421.  Abstract