Seminars & Events
Monday, February 11, 2013: Dr. Daphne Soares (University of Maryland College Park) will speak on "The Sensory World of Cavefishes" at 4:45 pm in Goodpaster Hall 195.
Monday, March 4, 2013: Dr. Joe Cheer (University of Maryland Baltimore) will speak on "Endogenous Cannabinoids and the Pursuit of Reward" at 4:45 pm in Goodpaster Hall 195.
Friday, April 12, 2013: Dr. Jill McGaughy (University of New Hampshire) will speak on "The Role of Cortical Norepinephrine in the Ontogeny of Executive Function" at 3:00 pm in Schaefer Hall 106.
Dr. Erin Johnson '02 recently received her Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the University of Rochester School of Medicine, and was inducted as an alumni member of Nu Rho Psi.
Ron Saul, "Chronic activation of the substantia nigra nociceptin/orphanin receptor induces motor deficits similar to Parkinson's disease," 2008. Saul, the 2008 winner of the Neuroscience Award, infused a drug into the substantia nigra of rats and measured the resulting motor behaviors, mood disturbances, and cognitive abilities.
Aileen M. Bailey. Associate Professor of Psychology. B.A., Beloit College (1994); M.S., Ph.D., University of Georgia (1996, 1999)
I am interested in the neuroanatomy and neurochemistry of higher cognitive functions. In particular, I investigate the involvement of various neuroanatomical areas in a cognitively demanding task, learning set formation. Learning set formation is a task that is infrequently used by behavioral neuroscientists but offers a closer model to human learning than many of the heavily examined animal learning tasks. My laboratory has found that a general neurotoxin produces a profound impairment in the ability to form a learning set. However, a specific toxin that destroys only neurons that contain acetylcholine does not block learning set acquisition. My lab continues to investigate what areas of the brain are most crucial to this particular learning task. We will also be looking at pharmaceutical agents that might alleviate any impairment in learning set that we see following brain damage.
I am also interested in examining pre-clinical markers of Parkinson's disease (PD). I have recently begun examining a novel progressive animal model of PD looking for changes in behavior that may occur prior to the onset of motor impairment. Investigations include changes in olfaction, mood, and cognition.
Anne Marie Brady. Associate Professor of Psychology. B.A., St. Mary's College of Maryland; M.A., Ph.D., Ohio State University (1997, 2000)
I am interested in the neurobiology of psychiatric diseases, particularly schizophrenia and drug addiction. In particular, I have been investigating cognitive deficits in a neurodevelopmental rat model of schizophrenia. Neonatal (7-day old) rats are given a specific lesion in the hippocampus, and are then allowed to grow to adulthood, when they begin to display behavioral and cognitive abnormalities that can be linked with common behavioral symptoms of schizophrenia. I am currently studying higher cognitive processes in these rats, including spatial learning and memory, attentional set-shifting, and formation of a learning set. I am also studying the differences between adolescent and adult behavior in these rats, and the neuroanatomical expression of Fos, a protein encoded by an immediate early gene that is turned on when neurons are activated.
There are also links between schizophrenia and drug addiction, with a high percentage of schizophrenia patients abusing drugs (often nicotine, cocaine, alcohol, and/or marijuana). I am also investigating possible neurobiological links between these two states, using the same neurodevelopmental model of schizophrenia and adding the self-administration of drugs.
Eric J. Hiris. Associate Professor of Psychology. B.A., Oakland University (1990); M.S., Ph.D., Vanderbilt University (1992, 1995)
My research focuses on visual perception, specifically how people perceive moving objects and complex patterns of motion. The properties of neurons in the visual areas of the brain are well known, but how do those neurons give rise to the experience of seeing that we have? How can knowledge of the properties of neurons be used to understand how the system as a whole works? What sort of non-invasive studies of humans can shed light on how we see? Current projects include:
Biological motion--If observers are shown motion displays consisting of points of light attached to the joints of a moving human, observers can readily identify the human form and the activity being performed. Researchers have identified several areas of the brain that seem to be involved in processing biological motion, it is less clear whether this results in any advantage in detecting or discriminating biological motion compared to non-biological motions.
Audiovisual integration—Single events in the world often cause multiple sensory inputs, for example a moving object creates both a visual and auditory experience as it moves across a rough surface. How are these multiple sensory experiences integrated into a coherent experience?
Wesley P. Jordan. Professor of Psychology. BS, University of Puget Sound (1974); Ph.D., Dartmouth College (1979).
As a behavioral neuroscientist, I am interested in how the brain controls behavior. In particular, I want to know how the brain is changed as a result of learning and how memories are stored. Most of my work involves studying how rats (and their brains) learn in simple situations in the laboratory. Specific areas of active research include the brain mechanisms supporting habituation, a simple form of learning to disregard unimportant stimuli; cocaine sensitization, a process by which repeated low doses of cocaine produce a heightened sensitivity to subsequent doses of this drug; and animal models of psychopathology.
Pamela S. Mertz. Associate Professor of Chemistry. B.A., Juniata College (1992); Ph.D., Mayo Graduate School (1999)
My current research focuses on a family of proteins, called the PAT family, which associates with lipid droplets inside cells. We are interested in the functions of the different family members and their roles in lipid metabolism and storage. The composition of PAT proteins differs in adipose tissue and steroidogenic cells from that in liver and muscle but the reasons are unclear. My research is working on characterizing some of these differences.
I also have broader research interests in the area of enzymology, in particular studying phosphatases and metalloenzymes. In the past I have worked with calcineurin, a phosphatase that is abundant in the brain and is involved in various signaling pathways. Functions in the brain include involvement with memory, long-term potentiation, and regulation of many types of ion channels.
John Ramcharitar. Assistant Professor of Biology. B.S., The University of the West Indies (1991); M.Phil., The University of the West Indies (1997); Ph.D., University of Maryland, College Park (2003)
In my laboratory, we investigate structure-function relationships in fish auditory systems. Fishes are by far the most abundant vertebrates on the planet (>24,000 species!!!), and they show phenomenal diversity in hearing capabilities. Much of this diversity correlates with an equally impressive array of auditory structures. Additionally, fishes show tremendous variations in the ability to process acoustic stimuli, and in the ability to extract biologically significant sounds from "noisy" environments. Given the increase in human-generated sound in many of the local waterways and systems, studies of fish hearing may be especially important for assessing the effects of anthropogenic noise on aquatic animals. We use anatomical (e.g. scanning electron microscopy) and electrophysiological (e.g. auditory evoked potentials) techniques to explore the fascinating world of fish auditory biology.