Dr Matthew W

Dr Matthew W Hale


College of Science, Health and Engineering

School of Psychology and Public Health

Department of Psychology and Counselling

Melbourne (Bundoora)



Area of study


Brief profile

Dr Hale was awarded a BBSc(Hons) in 1999 and a PhD (Neuroscience) in 2004 from La Trobe University. He was a postdoctoral research associate at the Henry Wellcome Laboratories for Integrative Neuroscience and Endocrinology at the University of Bristol, Bristol, UK (2005-2007) and then in the Department of Integrative Physiology and Center for Neuroscience at the University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO, USA (2007-2011).

The primary focus of Dr Hale’s research is to understand the neuronal circuitry that underlies emotional states such as anxiety. Anxiety is an adaptive emotional state, leading to behavioural responses including an increase in vigilance and arousal. This increase in vigilance and arousal in the presence of a distant but real threat is adaptive because it reduces the probability of aversive outcomes, including physical or emotional harm. However, anxiety can become chronic or pathological, such that it disrupts functioning in everyday life. The physiological and behavioural arousal associated with anxiety states and anxiety-related behaviours appear to be regulated by a distributed and interconnected system of brain structures including the midbrain raphe complex, the source of the majority of serotonin fibers innervating the forebrain. Understanding the role of serotonergic systems in regulation of emotional states and behaviour is important, as dysfunction of serotonergic systems is thought to play a major role in stress-related neuropsychiatric diseases, including affective and anxiety disorders.

Research interests

Neuroscience and neuropsychology

- The neuronal mechanisms controlling emotional behaviour

Teaching units

PSY1BNA: Introduction to Behavioural Neuroscience 1B

PSY1BNB: Introduction to Behavioural Neuroscience 1B

PSY2ACH: Abnormal, Clinical and Health Psychology

PSY3NBC: Neural Basis of Consciousness

PSY3CNN: Clinical Neuroscience and Neuropsychology

Recent publications

  • Lawther AJ, Clissold ML, Ma S, Kent S, Lowry CA, Gundlach AL, Hale, MW (2015) Anxiogenic drug administration and elevated-plus maze exposure activates sub-populations of relaxin-3 neurons in the nucleus incertus and serotonergic neurons in dorsal raphe nucleus of the rat. Neuroscience, 303, 270-284
  • Raison CL, Hale MW, Williams LE, Wager TD, Lowry CA (2015). Somatic influences on subjective well-being and affective disorders: the convergence of thermosensory and central serotonergic systems. Frontiers in Psychology, 5:1580
  • Stamper CE, Hennessey PA, Hale MW, Lukkes JL, Donner NC, Lowe KR, Paul ED, Spencer RL, Renner KJ, Orchinik M, Lowry CA (2015). Role of the dorsomedial hypothalamus in glucocorticoid-mediated feedback inhibition of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. Stress, 18, 76-87
  • Hale, MW, Spencer, SJ, Conti, B, Jasoni, C, Kent, S, Radler, ME, Reyes, TM, & Sominsky, L (2015). Diet, behavior and immunity across the lifespan. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, pii: S0149-7634(14)00346-7. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2014.12.009. [Epub ahead of print]
  • Barrientos RM, Thompson VM, Kitt, MM, Amat J, Hale MW, Frank MG, Crysdale NY, Stamper CE, Hennessey PA, Watkins LR, Spencer RL, Lowry CA, Maier SF. (2015). Greater glucocorticoid receptor activation in hippocampus of aged rats sensitizes microglia. Neurobiology of Aging, 36, 1483-1495.
  • Orian JM, Keating P, Downs LL, Hale MW, Jiang X, Pham H, La Flamme AC (2015). Deletion of IL-4Rα in the BALB/c mouse is associated with altered lesion topography and susceptibility to experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis. Autoimmunity, 1-14. [Epub ahead of print]
  • Radler ME, Wright, BJ, Walker FR, Hale MW, Kent S. (2015). Calorie restriction increases lipopolysaccharide-induced neuropeptide Y immunolabelling and reduces microglial cell area in the arcuate hypothalamic nucleus. Neuroscience, 285, 236-247
  • Radler ME, Hale MW, Kent SP (2014). Calorie restriction attenuates lipopolysaccharide-induced microglial activation in discrete regions of the hypothalamus and the subfornical organ. Brain, Behavior & Immunity, 38, 13-24
  • Drugan RC, Kelly KJ, Hibl PT, Hale MW, Lowry CA (2013). Prior cold water swim stress alters immobility in the forced swim test and associated activation of serotonergic neurons in the rat dorsal raphe nucleus. Neuroscience, 253, 221-234
  • Johnson PL, Sajdyk TJ, Fitz SD, Hale MW, Lowry CA, Hay-Schmidt A, Shekhar A (2013). Angiotensin II's role in sodium lactate-induced panic-like responses in rats with repeated urocortin 1 injections into the basolateral amygdala: Amygdalar angiotensin receptors and panic. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry, 44, 248-256
  • Lukkes JL, Kopelman JM, Donner NC, Hale MW, Lowry CA (2013). Development x environment interactions control tph2 mRNA expression in female rats. Neuroscience, 237, 139-150
  • Hale MW, Raison CL, Lowry CA (2013). Integrative physiology of depression and antidepressant drug action: implications for serotonergic mechanisms of action and novel therapeutic strategies for treatment of depression. Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 137, 108-118
  • Lukkes JL, Burke AR, Zelin NS, Hale MW, Lowry CA (2012). Post-weaning social isolation attenuates c-Fos expression in GABAergic interneurons in the basolateral amygdala of adult female rats. Physiology & Behavior, 107, 719-725
  • Hale MW, Shekhar A, Lowry CA (2012). Stress-related serotonergic systems: implications for symptomatology of anxiety and affective disorders, Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology, 32, 695-708
  • Lukkes JL, Engelman GH, Zelin NS, Hale MW, Lowry CA (2012). Post-weaning social isolation of female rats, anxiety-related behavior, serotonergic systems. Brain Research, 1443, 1-17

Older publications

  • Kelly, K.J., Donner, D.C., Hale, M.W., Lowry, C.A. (2011). Swim stress activates serotonergic and non-serotonergic neurons in specific subdivisions of the rat dorsal raphe nucleus in a temperature-dependent manner, Neuroscience, 197, 251-268
  • Hale, M.W., Shekhar, A., & Lowry, C.A. (2011). Development by environment interactions influencing tryptophan hydroxylase expression. Journal of Chemical Neuroanatomy, 41, 219-226.
  • Spannuth, B.M., Hale, M.W., Evans, A.K., Lukkes, J.L., Campeau, S., & Lowry, C.A. (2011). Fear-potentiated startle induces c-Fos expression in serotonergic neurons in the dorsal part of the dorsal raphe nucleus. Neuroscience, 179, 104-119.
  • Paul, E.D., Hale, M.W., Lukkes, J.L., Valentine, M.J., Sarchet, D.M., & Lowry, C.A. (2011). Repeated social defeat increases reactive emotional coping behavior and alters functional responses in rat serotonergic systems in the dorsal raphe nucleus. Physiology and Behavior, 104, 272-282.
  • Hale, M.W., Dady, K.F., Evans, A.K., & Lowry, C.A. (2011). Evidence for in vivo thermosensitivity of serotonergic neurons in the rat dorsal raphe nucleus and raphe pallidus nucleus implicated in thermoregulatory cooling. Experimental Neurology, 227, 264-278.
  • Hale, M.W., & Lowry, C.A. (2011). Functional topography of midbrain and pontine serotonergic systems: implications for synaptic regulation of serotonergic circuits. Psychopharmacology, 213, 243-264.
  • Hale, M.W., Johnson, P.J., Westerman, A.M., Abrams, J.K., Shekhar, A., & Lowry, C.A. (2010). Multiple anxiogenic drugs recruit a parvalbumin-containing subpopulation of GABAergic interneurons in the basolateral amygdala. Progress in Neuropsychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry, 34, 1285-1293.
  • Hale, M.W., Stamper, C.E., Staub, D.R., & Lowry, C.A. (2010). Urocortin 2 increases c-Fos expression in serotonergic neurons projecting to the ventricular/periventricular system. Experimental Neurology, 224, 271-281.
  • Lowry, C.A., Hale, M.W., & Wright, K.P. (2010). Stress and arousal/sleep. In: Encyclopedia of Behavioral Neuroscience (G. Koob, R.F. Thompson, M. Le Moal, eds.). Elsevier, New York, pp. 295-303.
  • Lowry, C.A., & Hale, M.W. (2010). Serotonin and the neurobiology of anxious states. In: The Behavioural Neurobiology of Serotonin. CP Mϋller, BL Jacobs (Eds), "Handbook in Behavioral Neuroscience" series, series editor, Joe P Huston. Elsevier, Amstredam, pp. 389-397.
  • Gardner, K.L., Hale, M.W., Lightman, S.L., Plotsky, P.M., & Lowry, C.A. (2009). Adverse early life experience and social stress during adulthood interact to increase serotonin transporter mRNA expression. Brain Research, 1305, 47-63.
  • Gardner, K.L., Hale, M.W., Oldfield, S., Lightman, S.L., Plotsky, P.M., Lowry, C.A. (2009). Adverse experience during early life and adulthood interact to elevate tph2 mRNA expression in serotonergic neurons within the dorsal raphe nucleus. Neuroscience, 163, 991-1001.
  • Lowry, C.A., Hale, M.W., Burke, K.A., Renner, K.J., Moore, F.L. (2009). Fluoxetine potentiates the effects of corticotropin-releasing factor on locomotor activity and serotonergic systems in the roughskin newt, Taricha granulosa. Hormones and Behavior, 56, 177-184.
  • Lowry, C.A., Hale, M.W., Plant, A., Windle, R.J., Shanks, N., Wood, S.A., Ingram, C.D., Renner, K.J., Lightman, S.L., & Summers, C.H. (2009). Fluoxetine inhibits corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF)-induced behavioral activation: evidence for convergent actions on an emotional motor system. Stress, 12, 225-239.
  • Sherry, J.M., Hazi, A., Hale, M.W., Milsome, S.L., & Crowe, S.F. (2009). Gamma-butyrolactone (GBL) disruption of passive avoidance learning in the day-old chick appears to be due to its effect on GABAB not gamma-hydroxybutric acid (GHB) receptors. Behavioural Brain Research, 197, 347-355.
  • Crowe, S.F., Neath, J., Hale, M.W. (2009). The type 4 phosphodiesterase inhibitors rolipram and YM976 facilitate recall of the weak version of the passive avoidance task in the day-old chick. Pharmacology, Biochemistry & Behavior, 92, 224-230.
  • Lowry, C.A., Hale, M.W., Evans, A.K., Heerkens, J., Staub, D.R., Gasser, P.J., & Shekhar, A (2008). Serotonergic systems, anxiety, and affective disorder: focus on the dorsomedial part of the dorsal raphe nucleus. Ann NY Acad Sci, 1148, 86-94.
  • Hale, M.W., Hay-Schmidt, A., Mikkelsen, J.D., Poulsen, B., Bouwknecht, J.A., Evans, A.K., Stamper, C.E., Shekhar, A., & Lowry, C.A. (2008). Exposure to an open-field arena increases c-Fos expression in a subpopulation of neurons in the dorsal raphe nucleus projecting to the basolateral amygdaloid complex. Neuroscience, 157, 733-748.
  • Hale, M.W., Hay-Schmidt, A., Mikkelsen, J.D., Poulsen, B., Shekhar, A., & Lowry, C.A. (2008). Exposure to an open-field arena increases c-Fos expression in a distributed anxiety-related system projecting to the basolateral amygdaloid complex. Neuroscience, 155, 659-672.
  • Lowry, C.A., Evans, A.K., Gasser, P.J., Hale, M.W., Staub, D.R., & Shekhar, A. (2008). Topographic organization and chemoarchitecture of the dorsal raphe nucleus and the median raphe nucleus. In: Serotonin and Sleep: Molecular, Functional and Clinical Aspects. J.M. Monti, S.R. Pandi-Perumal, B.L. Jacobs, and D.J. Nutt, Eds. Birkhauser Verlag AG, Basel, Switzerland, pp. 25-67.
  • Crowe, S.F., Sherry, J.M., & Hale, M.W. (2008). Remembering that things have changed: A review of the cellular mechanisms of memory re-consolidation in the day-old chick. Brain Research Bulletin, 76, 192-197.
  • Bouwknecht, J.A., Spiga, F., Staub, D.R., Hale, M.W., Shekhar, A., & Lowry, C.A. (2007). Differential effects of exposure to low-light or high-light open-field on anxiety-related behaviors: Relationship to c-Fos expression in serotonergic and non-serotonergic neurons in the dorsal raphe nucleus. Brain Research Bulletin, 72, 32-43.
  • Kent, S., Dedda, K., Hale, M.W., & Crowe, S.F. (2007). Polyinosinic:polycytidilic acid induces memory-processing deficits in the day-old chick. Behavioral Pharmacology, 18, 19-27.
  • Hale, M.W., Bouwknecht, J.A., Spiga, F., Shekhar, A., & Lowry, C.A. (2006). Exposure to high- and low-light conditions in an open-field test of anxiety increases c-Fos expression in specific subdivisions of the basolateral amygdaloid nucleus. Brain Research Bulletin, 71, 174-182.