IBACS Summer Research Fellows

The following students were awarded Summer Research Fellowships from

the CT Institute for the Brain and Cognitive Sciences

2017

 
 
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Physiology & Neurobiology
 

Alexandria Battison

Research Interests:

My research fits into IBaCS mission as it is inherently interdisciplinary; combining neuroscience experimental methods with mathematical and computer programming analysis methods. I was fortunate during my undergraduate career to have an interdisciplinary background, and my goal for my graduate work is to continue to bring engineering and physics into my neuroscience dissertation research. Most of my analysis work is taken from biomedical engineering and math and is applied to analyzing cortical firing patterns. I hope to push my research forward and continue to optimize my experimental methods in a way that will pull from physics and engineering.

 
 
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Physiology & Neurobiology
 

Mary Baumgartner

Research Interests:

At its core, my research is focused on understanding the molecular regulatory programs underlying normal cortical development and cortical function. As a result, my research project is intrinsically interdisciplinary, spanning the fields of molecular biology, developmental biology, neuroscience, and behavioral sciences, and initiating extensive collaborations both within and between departments is necessary to answer the questions at the heart of my project. In addition to the broad range of approaches I am employing, a key resource at my disposal is a conditional knockout mouse line, in which I can target a minor spliceosome component for removal in specific tissues. Using this mouse line, I can separately parse out how minor splicing informs cortical development, and how this altered development impacts cortical function, and how minor splicing regulates the function of mature neurons. Subsequent use of comprehensive behavioral testing paradigms can then be used to elucidate whether the functions of specific cortical regions/circuits, such as those underlying attention and motor activity, are differentially sensitive to shifts in minor splicing-controlled gene expression.

 
 
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School of Nursing
 

Sharon Casavant

Research Interests:

My proposed research is investigating the behavioral and epigenetic changes to the serotoninergic system in preterm rat pups who have sustained an experimentally induced hypoxic ischemic (HI) insult. Evidence indicates that SLC6A4, a gene which codes for serotonin transport proteins, undergoes epigenetic change when exposed to specific stressors. These stressors alter the emerging system and may impair cognitive outcomes.Therefore, this study has the potential to improve seritononergic function across the lifespan.

 
 
Pietro-Cerrone
Linguistics

 

Pietro Cerrone

Research Interests:

I conceive my interests in theoretical and experimental Morphology and its interfaces as a part of Cognitive Science. My ultimate goal is to contribute to the understanding of the language faculty and its processing, which requires interdisciplinary work, in particular, with cognitive psychologists and speech perception scientists, and, in general, with scholars whose research deals with how the human brain represents and processes language. I am currently involved in an speech perception and production project with Andrea Calabrese whose goal is to understand how English monolinguals categorize speech sounds of Polish and how they produce them.

 
 
Contreras-2

Psychology
 

Jessicas Contreras

Research Interests:

Jessica is a deaf 1st year doctoral student in developmental psychology. She is interested in neurodiversity and how american sign language contribute to cognitive devopment. She is interesting in how language experience shape cognitive systems such as executive function and number development.

 
 

Ashley

Psychology
 

Ashley Dhaim

Research Interests:

My research is focused on how action in a social context promotes the creation of a social coordination between individuals. I'm interested in how these dynamics change with experience and development between the ages of 3 and 10 years old and what implications they have on the development of higher level social cognition.

 
 

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BioMedical Engineering & Physiology and Neurobiology
 

Akie Fujita

Research Interests:

My project is directed at characterizing the functional properties of a population of inhibitory neurons in the lateral hypothalamic area. These neurons have been implicated in the control of arousal, reward and feeding but their cellular and circuit-level properties are poorly understood.  Using a combination of electrophysiology, neuroanatomy, optogenetics and behavioral techniques, I will take a multidisciplinary approach to uncovering their electrical and neuromodulatory signatures, anatomical projections and role in homeostatic behavior.

 
 

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Linguistics
 

Ryosuke Hattori

Research Interests:

This project uses the Intermodal Preferential Looking task on English-learning children, to seek a support for the “parametric” hypothesis, where positive setting of certain abstract parameters is considered to be prerequisite for two or more related constructions. It is my interest to find out if children’s comprehension level on these related constructions correlates with each other.

 
 

Lu Li photo

Mechanical Engineering
 

Lu Li

Research Interests:

We propose a 3D spatially heterogeneous neural tissue model of cortical motor neuron disease by co-culturing cortical and spinal motor neurons. We develop a bioprinting approach to precisely assemble neuron encapsulating gel blocks into 3D complex co-culture environment, which will offer an innovative system to study the role of target-derived signal on the development of cortical motor neurons in 3D and develop a better understanding of pathogenic mechanisms and identifying therapeutic targets for cortical motor neuron diseases. 

 
 

Andre (1)

Speech, Language & Hearing Sciences
 

Andre Lindsey

Research Interests:

My research is aimed at determining how language interacts with other domains of cognition and to determine how neurological injury affects that interaction. Consistent with the mission IBACS, the goal is a more comprehensive understanding of neurological functioning.

 
 
Maurici2
Psychology

Maurici Lopez-Felip

Research Interests:

My research project focuses on how the context in team sports influences the behavior of actors at both individual and collective-levels. The goals of  this project are 1) to develop a model of multi-agent coordination and 2) to use this model to make testable predictions about player performance as it relates to perception-action and cognitive processes.  In a more advanced stage of the project, we will assess the the model's ability to predict catastrophic events (e.g., injuries, collisions, etc.). 

 
 
Jin Lu
Computer Science and Engineering

Jin Lu

Research Interests:

Schizophrenia and many other mental disorders are associated with impairment of working memory. Recent studies have identified a limited number of regions among which the brain network connectivity modulates working memory. However, other possible regions remain lack of thorough investigation. To build a valid memory model rather than merely correlation analysis, we plan to develop a machine learning approach to analyze brain network connectivity in individuals under different states (rest, n-back) by integrative modeling of fMRI images, EEG signals and cognitive survey variables.

 
 
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Psychology

Monica Ly

Research Interests:

My current and proposed research would bridge clinical psychology and neuroscience, two fields that would gain tremendously from interaction rather than separation. By conducting this translational research, I hope to help set the groundwork for future research using simultaneous EEG-fMRI in topics that were previously limited by the incomplete neural picture provided by a single technique alone. The direct results of this work will help researchers select the system appropriate to their design and goals. The proposed research could incorporate aspects of bioengineering, cognitive neuroscience, neuropsychology, and clinical psychology. I hope to collaborate with faculty in both the clinical and behavioral neuroscience divisions as well as BIRC faculty to integrate their perspectives to evaluate the scope and use of innovative neuroimaging technologies.

 
 

shireena (1)

Psychology
 

Shireena McGee

Research Interests:

I aim to expand my research across traditional interdisciplinary sciences, incorporating research in learning, dynamical systems, education and the brain. I believe these fields are pertinently in-orthogonal in my line of work and must be mutually informative in order to find success in any one endeavor. Innovations in education are hidden in developmental psychology and neuroscience and it is my goal to work towards nurturing these interdisciplinary connections in order to make an impact on the way that the world receives and communicates information in diverse learning contexts.

 

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Psychology

Hannah Morrow

Research Interests:

I am investigating the underlying neural mechanisms that support our integration of sensory information into concepts. For example, how do we integrate (or bind) information about the reddish color, roundish shape, and crunching sound into the concept "apple"? Knowing how we integrate this information will play a key role in understanding how we learn about the world around us, and how that information is stored and retrieved.

 

Ashley-Parker

Speech, Language & Hearing Sciences

Ashley Parker

Research Interests:

This project will examine concept formation in children with specific language impairment. The purpose of the study is to examine the dependency of language on the development of concept formation in children. Concept organization is critical in order to understand and identify the things we encounter in the world, and two examples of such organizational structure are taxonomic and thematic categories. The hypothesis is that if concept formation is dependent on language abilities, then we would expect children with SLI to be at a less mature stage of concept formation due to their deficit in language. Our research seeks to find if a shift to a taxonomic preference occurs in children with language impairment, as it does in typically developing school-aged children. If significant differences are found, this study will help us to explain children with language impairment’s delay in language acquisition. 

 

 

 

perrino (1)

Psychological Sciences

Peter Perrino

Research Interests:

An individual inherits many fundamental processes that form complex cognitive systems that are required for the development of language. It is believed that genetics play a pivotal role in the acquisition and retention of language and disruptions in genetic mechanisms have shown to cause language impairments, as seen in dyslexia and autism. We aim to target specific genes that have been implicated in language disorders and assess the behavioral and neuroanatomical consequences of manipulating the protein products associated with the genes via the use of transgenic mouse models. We can assess these models on various intermediate language phenotypes such as auditory processing and working memory. Following behavioral testing, we can investigate various neural substrates that may be underlying any anomalies observed, to further understand the gene-brain-behavior relationship. With the help of IBACS, the completion of our work will provide valuable insight to our understanding of the biological substrates of atypical language development. Future applications of data could allow for the development of early screening tools to identify at risk individuals as well as more targeted interventions using these genetic and anatomical markers.

 

Rob_Petrosino

Linguistics

Roberto Petrosino

Research Interests:

My current work is looking at ERP response to marked/non-marked and linguistic/non-linguistic sounds. Markedness is a broad concept that encodes how much frequent and complex a cognitive object is. As dealing with such a broad dimension, this project will provide new evidence on the role of markedness in encoding and analyzing sounds, and may ultimately be of broad interest to cognitive scientists working on speech perception across domains.

 
 

Rainer

Communication
 

Adam Rainear

Research Interests:

My proposed research will focus on the factors which would promote safe and proper evacuation behavior in times of weather risks and crises. Using virtual reality, I hope to gain an understanding of what might enhance or impede safe evacuation, examine how new communication tools might influence risk messsage perception, and understand how individuals are processing and considering weather warnings under times of duress.

 

 
 

jenelle

Philosophy
 

Jenelle Salisbury

Research Interests:

My research is centered around the issue of “the unity of consciousness” in philosophy of mind. The current project aims to explore what the neuroscience of information integration in the semantic representation network can bring to bear on this topic. In particular, I am interested in the neural mechanisms underlying information integration (questions such as whether integration requires a hub). This is relevant to explaining the kind of unity required for joint accessibility, and I also aim to explore its relevance to the kind of unity required for joint phenomenology.

 

 
 
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Psychology

Vivi Tecoulesco

Research Interests:

In my research I am using ABRs to measure subcortical responses to and I am also using behavioral measures to map the language learning process. Letty Naigles in Developmental Psychology is my advisor; the goal of our research is to address how children with ASD learn language. She encouraged me to incorporate neural structure and function into my work. To that end I have been working with Erika Skoe to add ABR to my toolbox.
I am really interested in trying to bridge so called lower level subcortical processing with higher level, representational levels of language. In my opinion this is in line with the mission of IBACS. Additionally, as a trainee in the NBL program I am demonstrating my commitment to interdisciplinary work. Affiliating with IBACS with increase my opportunities to find projects to both join and/or initiate that strive to incorporate multiple perspectives as I believe our understanding of the brain and cognitive functioning is extremely more likely in this collaborative environment.
I plan to help the community by being open for collaboration, willingness to discuss my work and that of others, and hopefully doing good science that reflects well on the community.

 

 
 
troha
Psychology

Ryan Troha

Research Interests:

The Connecticut Institute for Brain and Cognitive Sciences places a lot of focus on research integrating different scientific disciplines. I will accomplish this by combining social behavior research with electrophysiology and neurophysiology. Observational learning has been seen in humans, but lacks a behavioral paradigm that can measure this phenomenon in other animals. I am working towards developing such a paradigm which will then allow further investigation into the electrophysiological and neurobiological components underlying this important form of learning.

Given this great opportunity, I will work my hardest to fulfill the Institute’s goals. This means not only working to expand my personal research expertise but to also teach those around me, cross disciplinary boundaries, and promote the Institute’s research activities. I am excited to make the most of this opportunity granted to me by the Institute and take advantage of any chance to learn from others, teach others, and to build the research environment here at the University of Connecticut!

 
 
Wei (2)
Psychology

Yi Wei

Research Interests:

I'm interested in auditory perception and processing in clinical population, particularly people with aphasia. I'm also interested in how auditory perception and processing can be used to help this population in their progress of recovery by innovate/modify/individualize current music therapy techniques.