Dr. K. Robertson
I am interested in brain plasticity and how animals adapt their behaviors in response to new experiences and new environments. It is expected that every time an animal experiences something new or adopts a change in behavior, there will be changes in the brain. However, it is not clear to what extent the brain changes, or what molecular mechanisms drive the change. I would like to understand to what extent the brain is “plastic” and what are the molecular mechanisms that control plasticity.
I use Drosophila melanogaster as a model organism to study these questions. Drosophilae that have been raised in the dark have more sensitive olfaction than those raised on a dark-light cycle. This behavioral adaptation is accompanied by a change in Acetylcholine production in the olfactory processing centers of their brains. We would like to know how Acetylcholine regulates olfaction and what types of neurons are being stimulated by it.
Fig. 1 The antennal sensory system in a dissected Drosophila brain, in cartoon form superimposed onto an image of the brain (A), and labeled with anti-choline acetyl transferase in a dissected Drosophila brain (B). AL = antennal lobe, OL = optic lobe, Ca = calyx, LH = lateral horn
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Dr. R. McGovern
My research program has focused on the neurobiological correlates of substance abuse and the psychopharmacology of addictive substances, with an emphasis on behavioral assessment. Specifically, my research has evaluated the behavioral effects of concomitant administration of methylphenidate (Ritalin©) and alcohol using an established animal model. My research has demonstrated that, as in humans, alcohol consumption supplemented by methylphenidate elevates plasma and brain concentrations of methylphenidate, in a process similar to the interaction of cocaine and alcohol. These findings implicate the abuse potential for each drug as well as potential for altering the therapeutic effects o fmethylphenidate. While my work has contributed ot our understanding methylphenidate and alcohol interaction, this drug interaction remains largely uncharacterized. As such, my research program involving students is directed towards investigating the neurobiological and behavioral consequences of concomitant methylphenidate and alcohol exposure.
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Dr. K. Lunnen
In a general sense, I am interested in exploring the complex relationship between the mind and body. Using non-invasive psychophysiological methods has allowed me to develop a number of interesting lines of research described briefly below. In recent years the stress hormone cortisol has enjoyed some popularity as a potential weight moderating variable. A couple of projects in my lab involved an investigation of the relationship between cortisol levels and hypertension and hypoglycemia.
Another recent series of studies have involved the measurement of oculomotor and encephalographic activity in individuals with obsessive-compulsive characteristics in response to disgusting visual stimuli. Results to date have shown that individuals with obsessive-compulsive characteristics tend to process visual information differently than non-symptomatic controls.
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Dr. David Goldberg
I earned my PhD from Duquesne University where my primary interest was the German Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. Since that time I have developed an interest in Philosophy of Mind, especially the implications that follow from the embodied nature of the brain and how cultural influences impact on neurological development and the eventual construction of a mind. My current research interests also include the Buddhist notion of mind, the neurological foundations of mystical experiences and the impact that hermeneutics plays on the interpretation of such experiences.
Dr. T. Lenox
My main research interests involve Computer-Human Interaction and Artificial Neural Networks (ANN). I am interested in studying how people use technology, how to best design the technology interaction to support humans, and whether this interaction changes our behavior and/or our brains. In addition, I use ANNs to study if we can create computer models of neurological phenomena such as dyslexia or depression.
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Dr. M. Furimsky
As a post-doctoral fellow at the Ottawa Health Research Institute (OHRI) I studied the role of the Sonic hedgehog signaling pathway in visual system development in mice. I was using knockout and transgenic mouse models to determine the specific roles of the Gli transcription factors in early patterning of the visual system and retinal development.
I am currently very interested in nervous system development in fish, specifically early patterning of the visual system. My research is also taking on a different dimension since I am examining the effects of environmental toxicants on nervous system development in fish. Knowing that different chemicals are making their way into aquatic ecosystems, I am interested in examining their potential sub-lethal effects on fish by specifically looking at any disruption of normal visual system development. To this end, I am using the zebrafish model in research currently taking place at Westminster College.
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