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Students who are interested in getting research experience in behavioral neuroscience can usually work with me in several ways: directed research (Psy 286/287), summer research opportunities, courses (Behavioral neuroscience sequence, Psy 233/333) and our Senior capstone sequence for psychology majors (Psy 495/496).

Most students will find themselves working with me on one of our continuing projects with humans or rats, using navigation tasks to probe learning and memory. Some of the broad project areas are described below.

 

 

Rat navigation

In order to understand how the brain actually creates and uses new memories, a number of our experiments test rats learning to perform tasks like maze-learning. Using behavioral methods, we establish how rats learn to find their way through new types of mazes. Then, using lesion techniques, we identify what parts of the brain are necessary for the rats to learn. Finally, we use neural recordings to examine what these parts of the brain are actually doing: how they actually allow rats to learn their way through a maze.

 

 

 

Human virtual navigation

For several years, we have been working on a set of experiments that use virtual environments (essentially first-person perspective video games) to study how people find their way through new environments. These studies allow us to compare human behavior to rat behavior, which gives us a better idea of how well our experiments with rats will generalize to humans.

 

 

We have created a website to host our human behavioral studies at www.behaviorgames.com, where you can find an example of one of our recent video game experiments.