Dr. Hales and Students Publish BN Research

Dr. Hales and Students Publish BN Research

Jena Hales, PhD and Behavioral Neuroscience alumni Greer Marshall ‘20, Nina Tabrizi ‘20, Ali McLagan ‘19 published their research and made the front cover in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Hippocampus

Dr. Hales’ research uses rodents as a model system for exploring the biological mechanisms of memory formation, storage, and retrieval and involves various techniques for better understanding memory functions, including stereotaxic neurosurgery, behavioral testing, and histological analysis of brain tissue. This study is a part of ongoing research, but the published study took about a year for testing and analyses. This research involves a collaboration with Dr. Marta Sabariego’s lab at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts.

Overview of Research - In the temporal organization of episodic memory, the hippocampus supports the experience of elapsed time

Space and time are both essential features of memory, and understanding how the brain is involved in these aspects of memory is critical. This study used a novel Time Duration Discriination (TDD) task we developed to directly manipulate time as the controlled variable. We found that rats with lesions of the hippocampus were impaired on the TDD task, suggesting that the hippocampus plays a key role in the temporal organization of episodic memory by representing subjective duration of elapsed time.

What was the most interesting part of being involved in this research?

Greer Marshall - The most interesting part of being involved in this research was being able to have a deep understanding of what was going on in the research and see the results of the study come to fruition. It was also interesting to learn about the research community and attend national research conferences. 

Nina Tabrizi - The most interesting part of being involved in this research was definitely the novelty of it all. Being one of the first teams to use time as our independent variable for this type of project makes the research all that more exciting. Due to its novelty, it was also important that we had the ability to fully describe the research for the graduate poster session at SfN. Although it was intimidating to be on the floor with graduate students and postdocs, it was an invaluable experience that helps me discuss my research in a variety of settings. 

Ali McLagan - There were two really interesting parts to being involved in this research. One, I got to read and learn about the most current understandings of episodic and temporal memory in real time. And two, I got to the see the creativity in research design first hand. Dr. Hales and her colleague at UCSD designed a new behavioral paradigm to specifically study temporal memory, and it was cool to see the outcome of that. 


What are you doing now and how has your USD research affected your job search and graduate applications?

Greer Marshall - I am currently in the processes of completing a one year M.S. in biomedical sciences degree and applying to osteopathic medical schools. This research opportunity not only improved my graduate and medical school applications, but it also helped me understand many processes involved in research. Being a part of this lab and research study thoroughly prepared me for graduate level research. 

Nina Tabrizi - I'm currently pursuing my master's in biomedical sciences at the California University of Science and Medicine. My research always comes up during job and school interviews, whether that be because I am talking about skills or lessons I've learned as an example, or the interviewer is just fascinated with time cells and neuroscience. I believe in addition to the skills I've acquired, my dedication of 3 years to the project is looked upon highly since it speaks to my ability to see things through. Unfortunately with covid, job offers have been rescinded due to budget cuts, fewer hours, etc., but I am positive I can still use my experience to find a research position in the next couple of months once I complete my MBS.

Ali McLagan - I am now a graduate student at University of Chicago in the Social Sciences department. I'm studying clinician diagnostic bias and trauma from community violence exposure. The research I did with doctor Hales motivated me to continue my training as a researcher so that I could continue to be a part of creative and cutting edge research like I was in undergrad. 


You can view the full article here: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/hipo.23261

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