Context-Dependent Decision Making



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Project Description

Our lab studies the neural basis of associative learning and decision-making. We use sophisticated behavioral tasks in rodents, in combination with modern tools to monitor and manipulate neural activity.
This project will examine the neural basis of context-dependent decision making. Rats will be trained in behavioral tasks in which the "meaning" and appropriate response to ambiguous stimuli is dependent on the context in which these stimuli are encountered. The role of midbrain dopamine neurons in this context-dependent disambiguation process will be examined. Techniques used will involve fiber-photometry and optogenetics (the use of light and fluorescence to monitor and manipulate neural activity) in freely moving rats.
Undergraduate Contribution
Research assistants will be mentored by a graduate student and might be involved in any -or all- aspects of the project, including: rodent colony management, construction of brain implants, assistance with survival surgeries, training rats on cognitive tasks; data collection and analysis, histological processing of brain tissue.
Requirements/Application Instructions
Research assistants must have a GPA of at least a 3.0 average over the last three quarters. Prior research experience, or coursework in behavioral neuroscience is preferred but not required. Students must be enthusiastic about research, attentive to detail, meticulous, responsible, and able to commit 9 hours a week for at least 3 quarters to the project.