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Graduate Students

Training Program: Neuroscience and Cognitive Science (NACS)

 
 
301-405-0374
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BPS 2123N

Benjamin Falk

Graduate Student

Training Program : Neuroscience and Cognitive Science (NACS)
Faculty Advisor : Cynthia Moss
Anticipated graduation date : Spring 2012

Current Research : My research has focused on the echolocation behavior of flying bats. I have studied the discrimination abilities of flying bats in a large flight room, training them to discriminate between different textured or shaped inedible objects. The goal is to identify to what degree bats can discriminate different textures/shapes using echolocation and then characterize their behavior so that we can identify how they are able to make these discriminations. By using an array of ultrasound microphones placed around the room and high speed video recordings, we can reconstruct the 3-D flight path of the bat and the echolocation beam pattern as the bat flies in the flight room. Through these techniques, I've been working on determining how bats investigate, discriminate, and categorize objects in their environment using echolocation. Another interest of mine is trying to understand how bats integrate somatosensory and motor information (about wind currents and body position) with echolocation in order to successfully navigate their environment. This is an ongoing project but current work has focused on potential wind sensors (very small hairs) on the wings of bats. By carefully removing the hairs we can determine what role those hairs have and in what ways does the bat compensate their removal.

 
email
BPS 1123J

Joanna Szczepanik

Graduate Student

Training Program : Neuroscience and Cognitive Science (NACS)
Faculty Advisor : Dr. Carl Lejuez
Anticipated graduation date : Spring 2013

Current Research : People suffering from depression seem to get no joy out of life. So called anhedonia, the inability experience pleasure, is one of the defining features of major depressive disorder (MDD). Unable to feel enthusiasm for friends, hobbies, food, or sex, people with MDD drop out and withdraw into themselves. Recent research, including functional brain imaging such as Positron Emission Tomography (PET) and functional Magnetic Resonance Imagaing (fMRI) provided evidence that symptoms of anhedonia may be related to dysfunction in so called brain reward system, and putatively identified brain regions where depressed patients differ from healthy controls in their responses to reward, such as winning money. My research is aimed at investigating whether Behavioral Activation Therapy for Depression, which directly addresses symptoms of anhedonia by encouraging re-engagement in previously enjoyed activities while providing structure and therapeutic support, will result in neurobiological changes in the networks engaged in response to pleasure and reward.

 
301-405-8276
email
BPS 1105

Susan Teubner-Rhodes

Graduate Student

Training Program : Neuroscience and Cognitive Science (NACS)
Faculty Advisor : Michael Dougherty, Jared Novick
Anticipated graduation date : Spring 2013

Current Research : Broadly, my research examines the relationship between executive function (the ability to regulate mental behavior and resolve among competing representations) and language processing. I am particularly interested in how individual differences in domain-general executive function influence controlled language processing abilities, including lexical access of low frequency items, the processing and comprehension of complex syntax, and integration of multiple information sources during language acquisition. The relationship between executive function and language processing is by no means unidirectional, so my research also explores the advantages in executive function conferred by bilingualism. Balanced bilinguals, who have had equivalent exposure to two languages since early childhood, outperform monolinguals on executive function tasks, presumably because frequent switching between two languages requires executive function abilities to inhibit lexical items from the incorrect language and to monitor speech for output errors. In my research, I combine neuroimaging and behavioral techniques to investigate the nature and the source of the bilingual advantage.