Director, Neuroscience Institute
Professor, Anatomy and Neurobiology

MEMPHIS TN 381632103
Tel: (901) 448-5995


  • Ph.D., Michigan State University, Neuroscience/Psychology
  • M.A., Michigan State University, Psychology
  • B.S., University of Wyoming, Psychology

Research description

My research is focused on understanding how neurosecretory neurons of the rat hypothalamo-neurohypophysial system release the hormones oxytocin and vasopressin into the general circulation. Current experiments include: 1) conventional intracellular and whole cell recordings of immunocytochemically identified oxytocin and vasopressin neurons, to determine differences between oxytocin and vasopressin neurons and how these differences relate to firing patterns during hormone release; 2) combined light and electron microscopic morphological studies to characterize the synaptic inputs to these neurons and understand the neural circuits which control the firing pattern of these neurons; and 3) characterizing plasticity in the intrinsic and synaptic properties of these neurons as a function of endocrine state.

Research interest/specialty

Understanding how neurosecretary neurons of the rat hypothalamo-neurohypophysical system release the hormones oxytocin and vasopressin into the general circulation.

Research keywords

Vasopressin, Oxytocin, Hypothalamus, Electrophysiology, Neuronal Plasticity, Firing Patterns, Synaptic and Membrane Properties


  1. Kirchner, MK, Foehring, RC, Wang, L, Chandaka, GK, Callaway, JC, Armstrong, WE. Phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate (PIP2 ) modulates afterhyperpolarizations in oxytocin neurons of the supraoptic nucleus. J Physiol, 595 (14), 4927-4946, 2017.
  2. Armstrong, WE. Kisspeptin: a new peptidergic system regulating oxytocin neurons and their reproductive plasticity in the hypothalamo-neurohypophysial system. J Physiol, 595 (3), 611-612, 2017.
  3. Chandaka, GK, Wang, L, Senogles, S, Armstrong, WE. Late Pregnancy is a Critical Period for Changes in Phosphorylated Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase/Extracellular Signal-Regulated Kinase 1/2 in Oxytocin Neurones. J Neuroendocrinol, 28 (9), 2016.
  4. Tasker JG, Voisin DL, Armstrong WE. The cell biology of oxytocin and vasopressin cells. In: Hormones, Brain and Behavior (3rd), 305-336, 2016.
  5. Guan, D, Armstrong, WE, Foehring, RC. Electrophysiological properties of genetically identified subtypes of layer 5 neocortical pyramidal neurons: Ca²⁺ dependence and differential modulation by norepinephrine. J Neurophysiol, 113 (7), 2014-32, 2015.
  6. Wang L, Ennis M, Szabo G, Armstrong WE. Characteristics of GABAergic and cholinergic neurons in perinuclear zone of mouse supraoptic nucleus. J Neurophysiol, 113 (3), 754-767, 2015.
  7. Armstrong WE. Central nervous system control of oxytocin secretion during lactation. In: Knobil and Neill's Physiology of Reproduction, 1 (4th Edit), 527-563, 2015.
  8. Armstrong WE. Hypothalamic supraoptic and paraventricular nuclei. In: The Rat Nervous System (4th), 295-314, 2015.
  9. Tokita, K, Armstrong, WE, St John, SJ, Boughter, JD. Activation of lateral hypothalamus-projecting parabrachial neurons by intraorally delivered gustatory stimuli. Front Neural Circuits, 8, 86, 2014.
  10. William E Armstrong, Jeffrey G Tasker. Neurophysiology of Neuroendocrine Neurons., 384 pages, 2014.
  11. Guan, D, Armstrong, WE, Foehring, RC. Kv2 channels regulate firing rate in pyramidal neurons from rat sensorimotor cortex. J Physiol, 591 (Pt 19), 4807-25, 2013.
  12. Scroggs, R, Wang, L, Teruyama, R, Armstrong, WE. Variation in sodium current amplitude between vasopressin and oxytocin hypothalamic supraoptic neurons. J Neurophysiol, 109 (4), 1017-24, 2013.
  13. Wang, L, Armstrong, WE. Tonic regulation of GABAergic synaptic activity on vasopressin neurones by cannabinoids. J Neuroendocrinol, 24 (4), 664-73, 2012.
  14. Teruyama, R, Sakuraba, M, Wilson, LL, Wandrey, NE, Armstrong, WE. Epithelial Na⁺ sodium channels in magnocellular cells of the rat supraoptic and paraventricular nuclei. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab, 302 (3), E273-85, 2012.
  15. Mozhui, K, Lu, L, Armstrong, WE, Williams, RW. Sex-specific modulation of gene expression networks in murine hypothalamus. Front Neurosci, 6, 63, 2012.
  16. Teruyama, R, Sakuraba, M, Kurotaki, H, Armstrong, WE. Transient receptor potential channel m4 and m5 in magnocellular cells in rat supraoptic and paraventricular nuclei. J Neuroendocrinol, 23 (12), 1204-13, 2011.
  17. Guan, D, Horton, LR, Armstrong, WE, Foehring, RC. Postnatal development of A-type and Kv1- and Kv2-mediated potassium channel currents in neocortical pyramidal neurons. J Neurophysiol, 105 (6), 2976-88, 2011.
  18. Jerome, J, Foehring, RC, Armstrong, WE, Spain, WJ, Heck, DH. Parallel optical control of spatiotemporal neuronal spike activity using high-speed digital light processing. Front Syst Neurosci, 5, 70, 2011.
  19. Thomson, AM, Armstrong, WE. Biocytin-labelling and its impact on late 20th century studies of cortical circuitry. Brain Res Rev, 66 (1-2), 43-53, 2011.
  20. Bealer, SL, Armstrong, WE, Crowley, WR. Oxytocin release in magnocellular nuclei: neurochemical mediators and functional significance during gestation. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol, 299 (2), R452-8, 2010.
  21. Leng, G, Moos, FC, Armstrong, WE. The adaptive brain: Glenn Hatton and the supraoptic nucleus. J Neuroendocrinol, 22 (5), 318-29, 2010.
  22. Armstrong, WE, Wang, L, Li, C, Teruyama, R. Performance, properties and plasticity of identified oxytocin and vasopressin neurones in vitro. J Neuroendocrinol, 22 (5), 330-42, 2010.
  23. Sladek CD, Armstrong WE. Neurohypophyseal system. In: Encyclopedia of Neuroscience (6th), 449-458, 2009.
  24. Teruyama, R, Lipschitz, DL, Wang, L, Ramoz, GR, Crowley, WR, Bealer, SL, Armstrong, WE. Central blockade of oxytocin receptors during mid-late gestation reduces amplitude of slow afterhyperpolarization in supraoptic oxytocin neurons. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab, 295 (5), E1167-71, 2008.
  25. Armstrong, WE. The neurophysiology of neurosecretory cells. J Physiol, 585 (Pt 3), 645-7, 2007.
  26. Teruyama, R, Armstrong, WE. Calcium-dependent fast depolarizing afterpotentials in vasopressin neurons in the rat supraoptic nucleus. J Neurophysiol, 98 (5), 2612-21, 2007.
  27. Armstrong, WE. A neurohypophysial end game: spreading excitation with sildenafil. J Physiol, 584 (Pt 1), 3, 2007.
  28. Guan, D, Tkatch, T, Surmeier, DJ, Armstrong, WE, Foehring, RC. Kv2 subunits underlie slowly inactivating potassium current in rat neocortical pyramidal neurons. J Physiol, 581 (Pt 3), 941-60, 2007.
  29. Li, C, Tripathi, PK, Armstrong, WE. Differences in spike train variability in rat vasopressin and oxytocin neurons and their relationship to synaptic activity. J Physiol, 581 (Pt 1), 221-40, 2007.
  30. Armstrong, WE, Hatton, GI. The puzzle of pulsatile oxytocin secretion during lactation: some new pieces. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol, 291 (1), R26-8, 2006.
  31. Guan, D, Lee, JC, Tkatch, T, Surmeier, DJ, Armstrong, WE, Foehring, RC. Expression and biophysical properties of Kv1 channels in supragranular neocortical pyramidal neurones. J Physiol, 571 (Pt 2), 371-89, 2006.
  32. Lipschitz, DL, Crowley, WR, Armstrong, WE, Bealer, SL. Neurochemical bases of plasticity in the magnocellular oxytocin system during gestation. Exp Neurol, 196 (2), 210-23, 2005.
  33. Armstrong, WE, Rubrum, A, Teruyama, R, Bond, CT, Adelman, JP. Immunocytochemical localization of small-conductance, calcium-dependent potassium channels in astrocytes of the rat supraoptic nucleus. J Comp Neurol, 491 (3), 175-85, 2005.
  34. Teruyama, R, Armstrong, WE. Enhancement of calcium-dependent afterpotentials in oxytocin neurons of the rat supraoptic nucleus during lactation. J Physiol, 566 (Pt 2), 505-18, 2005.
  35. Shevchenko, T, Teruyama, R, Armstrong, WE. High-threshold, Kv3-like potassium currents in magnocellular neurosecretory neurons and their role in spike repolarization. J Neurophysiol, 92 (5), 3043-55, 2004.
  36. Roper, P, Callaway, J, Armstrong, W. Burst initiation and termination in phasic vasopressin cells of the rat supraoptic nucleus: a combined mathematical, electrical, and calcium fluorescence study. J Neurosci, 24 (20), 4818-31, 2004.
  37. Roper, P, Callaway, J, Shevchenko, T, Teruyama, R, Armstrong, W. AHP's, HAP's and DAP's: how potassium currents regulate the excitability of rat supraoptic neurones. J Comput Neurosci, 15 (3), 367-89, 2003.
  38. Teruyama, R, Armstrong, WE. Changes in the active membrane properties of rat supraoptic neurones during pregnancy and lactation. J Neuroendocrinol, 14 (12), 933-44, 2002.
  39. Armstrong, WE, Stern, JE, Teruyama, R. Plasticity in the electrophysiological properties of oxytocin neurons. Microsc Res Tech, 56 (2), 73-80, 2002.
  40. Stern, JE, Hestrin, S, Armstrong, WE. Enhanced neurotransmitter release at glutamatergic synapses on oxytocin neurones during lactation in the rat. J Physiol, 526 Pt 1, 109-14, 2000.
  41. Stern, JE, Galarreta, M, Foehring, RC, Hestrin, S, Armstrong, WE. Differences in the properties of ionotropic glutamate synaptic currents in oxytocin and vasopressin neuroendocrine neurons. J Neurosci, 19 (9), 3367-75, 1999.
  42. Armstrong, WE, Stern, JE. Phenotypic and state-dependent expression of the electrical and morphological properties of oxytocin and vasopressin neurones. Prog Brain Res, 119, 101-13, 1999.
  43. Armstrong, WE, Stern, JE. Electrophysiological distinctions between oxytocin and vasopressin neurons in the supraoptic nucleus. Adv Exp Med Biol, 449, 67-77, 1999.
  44. Mayne, RG, Armstrong, WE, Crowley, WR, Bealer, SL. Cytoarchitectonic analysis of Fos-immunoreactivity in brainstem neurones following visceral stimuli in conscious rats. J Neuroendocrinol, 10 (11), 839-47, 1998.
  45. Stern, JE, Armstrong, WE. Reorganization of the dendritic trees of oxytocin and vasopressin neurons of the rat supraoptic nucleus during lactation. J Neurosci, 18 (3), 841-53, 1998.
  46. Armstrong, WE, Stern, JE. Electrophysiological and morphological characteristics of neurons in perinuclear zone of supraoptic nucleus. J Neurophysiol, 78 (5), 2427-37, 1997.
  47. Stern, JE, Armstrong, WE. Sustained outward rectification of oxytocinergic neurones in the rat supraoptic nucleus: ionic dependence and pharmacology. J Physiol, 500 ( Pt 2), 497-508, 1997.
  48. Hestrin, S, Armstrong, WE. Morphology and physiology of cortical neurons in layer I. J Neurosci, 16 (17), 5290-300, 1996.
  49. Armstrong, WE, Tian, M, Wong, H. Electron microscopic analysis of synaptic inputs from the median preoptic nucleus and adjacent regions to the supraoptic nucleus in the rat. J Comp Neurol, 373 (2), 228-39, 1996.
  50. Smith, BN, Armstrong, WE. The ionic dependence of the histamine-induced depolarization of vasopressin neurones in the rat supraoptic nucleus. J Physiol, 495 ( Pt 2), 465-78, 1996.
  51. Foehring, RC, Armstrong, WE. Pharmacological dissection of high-voltage-activated Ca2+ current types in acutely dissociated rat supraoptic magnocellular neurons. J Neurophysiol, 76 (2), 977-83, 1996.
  52. Stern, JE, Armstrong, WE. Changes in the electrical properties of supraoptic nucleus oxytocin and vasopressin neurons during lactation. J Neurosci, 16 (16), 4861-71, 1996.
  53. Armstrong, WE. Morphological and electrophysiological classification of hypothalamic supraoptic neurons. Prog Neurobiol, 47 (4-5), 291-339, 1995.
  54. Stern, JE, Armstrong, WE. Electrophysiological differences between oxytocin and vasopressin neurones recorded from female rats in vitro. J Physiol, 488 ( Pt 3), 701-8, 1995.
  55. Armstrong, WE, Smith, BN, Tian, M. Electrophysiological characteristics of immunochemically identified rat oxytocin and vasopressin neurones in vitro. J Physiol, 475 (1), 115-28, 1994.
  56. Paden, CM, Tian, M, Armstrong, WE. Differential distributions of novel antigens within vasopressin dense core vesicles revealed by monoclonal antibodies. Ann N Y Acad Sci, 689, 649-50, 1993.
  57. Armstrong, WE, Rice, ME. Transient extracellular volume reduction in neural lobe of rat hypophysis in response to neural stalk stimulation in vitro and its relationship to extracellular potassium. J Neurophysiol, 69 (4), 1363-7, 1993.
  58. Smith, BN, Armstrong, WE. Histamine enhances the depolarizing afterpotential of immunohistochemically identified vasopressin neurons in the rat supraoptic nucleus via H1-receptor activation. Neuroscience, 53 (3), 855-64, 1993.
  59. Crowley, WR, Parker, SL, Armstrong, WE, Spinolo, LH, Grosvenor, CE. Neurotransmitter and neurohormonal regulation of oxytocin secretion in lactation. Ann N Y Acad Sci, 652, 286-302, 1992.
  60. Crowley, WR, Armstrong, WE. Neurochemical regulation of oxytocin secretion in lactation. Endocr Rev, 13 (1), 33-65, 1992.
  61. Armstrong, WE, Tian, M. Separate ultrastructural distributions of neurophysin and C-terminal glycopeptide within dense core vesicles in rat neural lobe. Brain Res, 562 (1), 144-8, 1991.
  62. Armstrong, WE, Tian, M, Reger, JF. Elevated extracellular potassium is associated with a reduced extracellular space in rat neural lobe in vitro. J Neurocytol, 20 (7), 564-72, 1991.
  63. Crowley, WR, Parker, SL, Armstrong, WE, Wang, W, Grosvenor, CE. Excitatory and inhibitory dopaminergic regulation of oxytocin secretion in the lactating rat: evidence for respective mediation by D-1 and D-2 dopamine receptor subtypes. Neuroendocrinology, 53 (5), 493-502, 1991.
  64. Parker, SL, Armstrong, WE, Sladek, CD, Grosvenor, CE, Crowley, WR. Prolactin stimulates the release of oxytocin in lactating rats: evidence for a physiological role via an action at the neural lobe. Neuroendocrinology, 53 (5), 503-10, 1991.
  65. Kita, H, Armstrong, W. A biotin-containing compound N-(2-aminoethyl)biotinamide for intracellular labeling and neuronal tracing studies: comparison with biocytin. J Neurosci Methods, 37 (2), 141-50, 1991.
  66. Tian, M, Reger, JF, Armstrong, WE. Electron microscopic and immunocytochemical study of rapidly frozen, freeze-substituted neural lobes of rats. J Neurocytol, 20 (2), 79-96, 1991.
  67. Armstrong, WE, Smith, BN. Tuberal supraoptic neurons--II. Electrotonic properties. Neuroscience, 38 (2), 485-94, 1990.
  68. Smith, BN, Armstrong, WE. Tuberal supraoptic neurons--I. Morphological and electrophysiological characteristics observed with intracellular recording and biocytin filling in vitro. Neuroscience, 38 (2), 469-83, 1990.
  69. Armstrong, WE, Wilson, CJ, Gallagher, MJ, Sladek, CD. Quantitative Comparisons Between the Electrical Activity of Supraoptic Neurons and Vasopressin Release in vitro. J Neuroendocrinol, 1 (3), 215-26, 1989.
  70. Horikawa, K, Armstrong, WE. A versatile means of intracellular labeling: injection of biocytin and its detection with avidin conjugates. J Neurosci Methods, 25 (1), 1-11, 1988.
  71. Sladek, CD, Armstrong, WE. gamma-Aminobutyric acid antagonists stimulate vasopressin release from organ-cultured hypothalamo-neurohypophyseal explants. Endocrinology, 120 (4), 1576-80, 1987.
  72. Armstrong, WE, Gallagher, MJ, Sladek, CD. Noradrenergic stimulation of supraoptic neuronal activity and vasopressin release in vitro: mediation by an alpha 1-receptor. Brain Res, 365 (1), 192-7, 1986.
  73. Armstrong, WE, Sladek, CD. Evidence for excitatory actions of histamine on supraoptic neurons in vitro: mediation by an H1-type receptor. Neuroscience, 16 (2), 307-22, 1985.
  74. Dubois-Dauphin, M, Armstrong, WE, Tribollet, E, Dreifuss, JJ. Somatosensory systems and the milk-ejection reflex in the rat. I. Lesions of the mesencephalic lateral tegmentum disrupt the reflex and damage mesencephalic somatosensory connections. Neuroscience, 15 (4), 1111-29, 1985.
  75. Dubois-Dauphin, M, Armstrong, WE, Tribollet, E, Dreifuss, JJ. Somatosensory systems and the milk-ejection reflex in the rat. II. The effects of lesions in the ventroposterior thalamic complex, dorsal columns and lateral cervical nucleus-dorsolateral funiculus. Neuroscience, 15 (4), 1131-40, 1985.
  76. Tribollet, E, Armstrong, WE, Dubois-Dauphin, M, Dreifuss, JJ. Extra-hypothalamic afferent inputs to the supraoptic nucleus area of the rat as determined by retrograde and anterograde tracing techniques. Neuroscience, 15 (1), 135-48, 1985.
  77. Charpak, S, Armstrong, WE, Mühlethaler, M, Dreifuss, JJ. Stimulatory action of oxytocin on neurones of the dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus nerve. Brain Res, 300 (1), 83-9, 1984.
  78. Schöler, J, Armstrong, WE. Aqueous aldehyde (Faglu) histofluorescence for catecholamines in 2 micron sections using polyethylene glycol embedding. Brain Res Bull, 9 (1-6), 27-31, 1982.
  79. Armstrong, WE, Sladek, CD, Sladek, JR. Characterization of noradrenergic control of vasopressin release by the organ-cultured rat hypothalamo-neurohypophyseal system. Endocrinology, 111 (1), 273-9, 1982.
  80. Armstrong, WE, Sladek, CD. Spontaneous "phasic-firing' in supraoptic neurons recorded from hypothalamo-neurohypophysial explants in vitro. Neuroendocrinology, 34 (6), 405-9, 1982.
  81. Armstrong, WE, Schöler, J, McNeill, TH. Immunocytochemical, Golgi and electron microscopic characterization of putative dendrites in the ventral glial lamina of the rat supraoptic nucleus. Neuroscience, 7 (3), 679-94, 1982.
  82. Watson, CR, Sakai, S, Armstrong, W. Organization of the facial nucleus in the rat. Brain Behav Evol, 20 (1-2), 19-28, 1982.
  83. Warach, S, Armstrong, WE, Hatton, GI. Puromycin-induced argyrophilia as an alternative to Golgi methods: reliable impregnations of hypothalamic cell groups following lateral ventricular injections in rats. Neurosci Lett, 23 (3), 223-8, 1981.
  84. Armstrong, WE, Hatton, GI. The localization of projection neurons in the rat hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus following vascular and neurohypophysial injections of HRP. Brain Res Bull, 5 (4), 473-7, 1980.
  85. Armstrong, WE, Warach, S, Hatton, GI, McNeill, TH. Subnuclei in the rat hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus: a cytoarchitectural, horseradish peroxidase and immunocytochemical analysis. Neuroscience, 5 (11), 1931-58, 1980.
  86. Armstrong, WE, Hatton, GI. Morphological changes in the rat supraoptic and paraventricular nuclei during the diurnal cycle. Brain Res, 157 (2), 407-13, 1978.
  87. Hatton, GI, Armstrong, WE, Gregory, WA. Spontaneous and osmotically-stimulated activity in slices of rat hypothalamus. Brain Res Bull, 3 (5), 497-508, 1978.
  88. Armstrong, WE, Gregory, WA, Hatton, GI. Nucleolar proliferation and cell size changes in rat supraoptic neurons following osmotic and volemic challenges. Brain Res Bull, 2 (1), 7-14, 1977.
  89. Hoblitzell, ER, Hatton, GI, Armstrong, WE. Paraventricular nucleus: changes in the medial and lateral cell groups during dehydration and rehydration in the rat. Brain Res Bull, 1 (3), 329-32, 1976.
  90. Hatton, GI, Hutton, UE, Hoblitzell, ER, Armstrong, WE. Morphological evidence for two populations of magnocellular elements in the rat paraventricular nucleus. Brain Res, 108 (1), 187-93, 1976.