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We are always looking for talented researchers to be part of our projects (from a short internship to a full PhD); applicants should share a strong motivation to discover fundamental network mechanisms that contribute to complex behavior, in particular, the networks, processes and computations that lead to flexible learning and memory.
We value diversity and look forward to backgrounds from a variety of disciplines, Neuroscience, Psychology, Physics, Computer Science, Electrical Engineering.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR UNDERGRADUATES:
We have several openings for undergraduate students interested in the neural basis of learning:
Project 1. Building automated systems to investigate learning in rodents
Background: Figuring out the neuronal mechanisms of learning requires techniques from multiple STEM fields, from psychology to engineering to computer science. Behavioral experiments to test spatial learning involve the use of mazes that animals solve driven by the motivation to find food rewards. These experiments are controlled by increasingly flexible video software, allowing for precise characterization of behavior and integration with other equipment (electrophysiology, optogenetics).
Goals: To build (from scratch) an experimental setup for behavioral testing of learning and memory in rodents. Starting from the raw materials (rain gutter –yes, rain gutter-, sensors, Arduino boards, wires, connectors, computer parts, etc), the first step will be to assemble two mazes with reward ports and remotely controlled by switches or video tracking software. The second goal will be to set up a video camera, computer and software that will record the behavior and the performance of animals as they learn the task. A third step will be to test the system by training rats in a spatial memory task and quantify their performance improvement over time.
Dedication and Outcomes: At least 10 h/week, with the possibility of extending through the summer and beyond. Programming skills preferred. As part of this project, you will learn about behavioral training in rodents, video tracking of movement, setting up a computer and have it interface with experimental equipment.
Project 2. Building electrode arrays to study the cellular basis of flexible learning and memory
Background: To investigate how sleep helps animals learn we record cellular activity in behaving rodents using arrays of electrodes that target functionally connected brain areas involved in memory. Because of their small size and multiple components, these arrays are challenging to build, but they provide the best approach to study functionally connected areas with single spike resolution.
Goals: To build electrode arrays for the recording of populations of cells in thalamus, cortex and hippocampus.
Dedication and Outcomes: At least 10 h/week, with the possibility of extending through the summer and beyond. In this project you will learn about extracellular electrophysiology in behaving rodents and the cellular mechanisms of learning and memory.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR GRADUATE STUDENTS:
If interested in joining as a graduate student, there are several programs within FAU and with our partners, the Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience and Scripps Research Institute. Application deadlines in the Fall.
Contact Carmen for more info: email@example.com
Boca Raton campus