Human survival, as in all vertebrates, relies on triumphs in competition, mating, and parenting. The neural circuitry underlying vital social interactions are increasingly reported as not hardwired but shaped by contextual, genetic, endocrine, environmental, and cognitive variables. My work has focused on connecting key relationships between seemingly distant variables like early-life stress, the social environment, drugs, and neurobiology – at the time of a social action and the moments leading up to it. It is in the early, motivational stages of a goal-directed behavior that are most interesting to me, when increased flexibility in decision making is crucial for expressing what’s potentially most beneficial, socially intuitive, and adaptive. Understanding that changes in consistent patterns of behavior require the recruitment of molecular & cellular elements is a nod to committed efforts that are essential for modifying tenacious behavioral routines.

Education and Training

  • Postdoctoral Research Fellow: Department of Neuroscience, Icahn School of Medicine, Mount Sinai Health System
  • PhD: Department of Psychology, Tufts University
  • BSc: Department of Psychology, Virginia Commonwealth University

Scholarly Favorites

Covington HE III and Miczek KA (2023). Violence and Aggression. The Cambridge Textbook of Neuroscience for Psychiatrists. Cambridge University Press

Miczek KA, Akdilek N, Ferreira VMM, Leonard M, Marinelli LR, and Covington HE III (2022). To fight or not to fight: Activation of the mPFC during decision to engage in aggressive behavior after ethanol consumption in a novel murine model. Psychopharmacology, 239 (10): p 3249-3261.

Crew L, Covington HE III, and Hyman J (2021). Aggression: How the anterior cingulate cortex helps to ensure a fair fight. Current Biology, 31 (11): R716-R718.

Newman EL, Covington HE III, Leonard MZ, Burke K, and Miczek KA (2021). Hypoactive thalamic Crh+ cells in a female mouse model of alcohol drinking after social trauma. Biological Psychiatry, 90 (8): p 563-574.

Covington HE III and Miczek KA (2021). Behavioral Neuroscience of Aggression. Encyclopedia of Behavioral Neuroscience, 2e: p. 45-50.

Newman EL, Covington HE III, Suh J, Bicakci MB, Ressler KJ, DeBold JF, and Miczek KA (2019). Fighting females: Neural and behavioral consequences of social defeat stress in female mice. Biological Psychiatry, 86 (9): p 657-668.

Covington HE III, Newman EL, Leonard MZ, and Miczek KA (2019). Translational models of adaptive and excessive fighting: An emerging role for neural circuits in pathological aggression. F1000 Faculty Reviews, 963

Covington HE III, Newman EL, Tran S, Walton L, Hayek W, Leonard MZ, DeBold JF, and Miczek KA (2018). The urge to fight: Persistent escalation by alcohol and role of NMDA receptors in mice. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 12 (206): p 1-14.

Kikusui T, Kajita M, Otsuka N, Hattori T, Kumazawa K, Nagasawa M, Inutsuka A, Yamanaka A, Matsuo N, Covington HE III, and Mogi K (2018). Sex differences in olfactory-induced activation of the amygdala. Behavioral Brain Research, 346: p 96-104.

Covington HE III, Maze I, Vialou V, and Nestler EJ (2015). Antidepressant action of HDAC inhibition in the prefrontal cortex. Neuroscience, 298: p 329-325.

Dzirasa K and Covington HE III (2012). Increasing the validity of experimental models for depression. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1265: p 36-45.

Lobo MK, Nestler EJ, and Covington HE III (2012). Potential utility of optogenetics in the study of depression. Biological Psychiatry, 71 (12): p 1068-1074.

Golden SA, Covington HE III, Berton O, and Russo SJ (2011). A standardized protocol for repeated social defeat stress in mice. Nature Protocols, 6: p 1183–1191.

Covington HE III, Maze I, Sun H, Bomze HM, DeMaio KD, Wu EY, Dietz DM, Lobo MK, Ghose S, Mouzon E, Neve RL, Tamminga CA, and Nestler EJ (2011). A role for repressive histone methylation in cocaine-induced vulnerability to stress. Neuron, 71 (4): p 656-670.

Covington HE III and Berton O (2011). Chromatin-based treatments for affective disorders - insight or utopia. In Cryan J and Leonard BE (eds). Psychopathology and Pharmacotherapy of Depression. S Karger, Basal, Switzerland.

Covington HE III and Miczek KA (2010). Binge drug taking (Chapter 15). In C Olmstead (ed). Neuromethods: Animal Models of Drug Addiction, Vol 53. The Humana Press. Totowa, NJ

Covington HE III, Vialou V, and Nestler EJ (2010). From synapse to nucleus: Novel targets for treating depression. Neuropharmacology, 58 (4-5): p 683-693.

Maze I, Covington HE III, Dietz DM, LaPlant Q, Renthal W, Russo SJ, Mechanic M, Mouzon E, Neve RL, Haggarty SJ, Ren Y, Sampath SC, Hurd YL, Greengard P, Tarakhovsky A, Schaefer A, and Nestler EJ (2010).  Essential role of the histone methyltransferase G9a in cocaine-induced plasticity. Science, 327 (5962): p 213-216.

Covington HE III, Lobo MK, Maze I, Vialou V, Hyman JM, Zaman S, LaPlant Q, Mouzon E, Ghose S, Tamminga CA, Neve RL, Deisseroth K, and Nestler EJ (2010) Antidepressant effect of optogenetic stimulation of the medial prefrontal cortex. The Journal of Neuroscience, 30 (48): p 16082-16090.

Covington HE III and Miczek KA (2005). Intense cocaine self-administration after episodic social defeat stress, but not after aggressive behavior: dissociation from corticosterone activation.  Psychopharmacology, 185 (3): p 331-340.

Covington HE III, Kikusui T, Goodhue J, Nikulina EM, Hammer RP Jr, and Miczek KA (2004). Brief social defeat stress: long lasting effects on cocaine taking during a binge and zif268 mRNA expression in the amygdala and prefrontal cortex. Neuropsychopharmacology, 30 (2): p 310-321.

Covington HE III and Miczek KA (2001).  Repeated social defeat stress, cocaine, or morphine:  Effects on behavioral sensitization and IV cocaine self-administration “binges.” Psychopharmacology, 158: p 388-398.

Porter JH, Covington HE III, Varvel SA, Vann RE, and Warren TA (1999). Chlorpromazine as a discriminative stimulus in rats: Generalization to typical and atypical antipsychotics. Drug Development Research, 48; p 38-44.