University of Southern California

USC Neuroscience

Scott E. Kanoski

Assistant Professor

Research Topics

  1. Food intake and body weight regulation
  2. Learning and memory
  3. Neuroendocrinology
  4. Cognitive Impairment / Alzheimer's

Research Overview

The prevalence of obesity has exploded over the past 30 years. The neurobiological systems that underlie the excessive feeding behavior contributing to obesity onset remain poorly understood. Our goal is to explore the neural control of "higher-order" aspects of feeding behavior, including decisions about whether to eat or not to eat, what to consume, and how much of it to consume.

These decisions are heavily influenced by neuroendocrine signals produced in the peripheral organs or in the brain (e.g., leptin, GLP-1, ghrelin, orexin) that act on receptors expressed in the brain's cognitive and reward circuitry. At the center of our research focus is the hippocampus; a region traditionally linked with the control of learning and memory. We've recently shown that the hippocampus regulates higher-order aspects of feeding behavior by detecting and utilizing circulating hormonal signals. Our research approach utilizes neuropharmacological, neuroanatomical, genetic, surgical, behavioral, and other research strategies to explore how neuroendocrine systems act in the hippocampus and other brain areas to increase (or decrease) food-motivated behavior. Our goal is to provide insight into the biology and psychology underlying the excessive food intake that is driving up obesity rates in Western cultures.

A second and related focus of our lab is to study how the brain is negatively impacted by dietary and metabolic factors. Saturated fatty acid and refined carbohydrate (i.e., sugar) consumption not only contributes to obesity development, but also produces deficits in learning and memory capabilities and can even increase the risk for developing Alzheimer's pathology. We are currently examining the specific causal dietary factors and critical developmental periods related to diet-induced hippocampal dysfunction. Our work is revealing underlying neurobiological mechanisms (e.g., blood-brain barrier disruption, neuroinflammation) that link Western diet intake to cognitive impairment.

Contact Information

Web Site:
Kanoski Lab
Mailing Address:
3560 Watt Way
PED 107
University of Southern California
Los Angeles, CA 90089-0652
Office Location:
SHS 165
Office Phone:
(213) 821-5762
Lab Location:
SHS 166 & RRI B15


  • B.S. Psychology (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2000)
  • M.S. Psychology (Purdue University, 2006)
  • Ph.D. Psychology / Behavioral Neuroscience (Purdue University, 2009)
  • Postdoctoral Research Fellow (University of Pennsylvania, 2009-2012)

Research Images

Selected Publications

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Hippocampal GLP-1 receptors influence food intake, meal size, and effort-based responding for food through volume transmission.

Neuropsychopharmacology. 2014 In Press.

Hsu TM, Hahn JD, Konanur VR, Lam A, Kanoski SE

-PubMed -Link

Blood-brain barrier disruption: mechanistic links between Western diet consumption and dementia.

Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience. 2014 May 9;6:88.

Hsu TM, Kanoski SE

-PubMed -Link

Leptin signaling in the medial nucleus tractus solitarius reduces food seeking and willingness to work for food.

Neuropsychopharmacology. 2014 Feb;39(3):605-13.

 Kanoski SE, Alhadeff AL, Fortin SM, Gilbert JR, Grill HJ

-PubMed -Link

Ghrelin signaling in the ventral hippocampus stimulates learned and motivational aspects of feeding via PI3K-Akt signaling.

Biological Psychiatry. 2013 May 1;73(9):915-23.

Kanoski SE, Fortin SM, Ricks KM, Grill HJ

-PubMed -Link

Endogenous leptin receptor signaling in the medial nucleus tractus solitarius affects meal size and potentiates intestinal satiation signals.

American Journal of Physiology: Endocrinology & Metabolism. 2012 Aug 15;303(4):E496-503.

Kanoski SE, Zhao S, Guarnieri DJ, DiLeone RJ, Yan J, De Jonghe BC, Bence KK, Hayes MR, Grill HJ

-PubMed -Link

The role of nausea in food intake and body weight suppression by peripheral GLP-1 receptor agonists, exendin-4 and liraglutide.

Neuropharmacology. 2012 Apr;62(5-6):1916-27.

Kanoski SE, Rupprecht LE, Fortin SM, De Jonghe BC, Hayes MR

-PubMed -Link

Cognitive and neuronal systems underlying obesity.

Physiology and Behavior. 2012 Jun 6;106(3):337-44.

Kanoski SE

-PubMed -Link

Peripheral and central GLP-1 receptor populations mediate the anorectic effects of peripherally administered GLP-1 receptor agonists, liraglutide and exendin-4.

Endocrinology. 2011 Aug;152(8):3103-12.

Kanoski SE, Fortin SM, Arnold M, Grill HJ, Hayes MR

-PubMed -Link

Hippocampal leptin signaling reduces food intake and modulates food-related memory processing.

Neuropsychopharmacology. 2011 Aug;36(9):1859-70.

Kanoski SE, Hayes MR, Greenwald HS, Fortin SM, Gianessi CA, Gilbert JR, Grill HJ

-PubMed -Link

The effects of a high-energy diet on hippocampal function and blood-brain barrier integrity in the rat.

Journal of Alzheimers Disease. 2010;21(1):207-19.

Kanoski SE, Zhang Y, Zheng W, Davidson TL

-PubMed -Link