Neuroscience News


Bates alumna receives prestigious research scholarship in dental medicine

Sangita Murali ’12 of South Dartmouth, Massachusetts has been selected as a recipient of the 2014-2015 Dean’s Research Honors Scholarship at the Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, a highly competitive award that supports basic science, clinical, and public health research.

Physics and math courses added to the neuroscience curriculum 

We are pleased to announce two new neuroscience List B electives: Mathematical Models in Biology, taught by Professor Meredith Greer, and Mathematical Models of Physics, taught by Professor Travis Gould.

Comings and goings…

Bates Neuroscience bids a fond farewell to Professor Jesse Bengson, Visiting Assistant Professor in Psychology during the 2013-2014 academic year. While at Bates, Dr. Bengson taught Cognitive Neuroscience, Principles of Psychology, and a psychophysiology-based seminar called Rhythms of the Mind. Bates welcomes back Professor Nancy Koven, who returns from her sabbatical in August 2014.

Bates biopsychology alumna takes tenure-track position at Temple University

Congratulations to Dr. Lisa Briand, from the class of 2001, who will be joining the faculty at Temple University in Fall 2014. Dr. Briand, who went to the University of Michigan and University of Pennsylvania for her graduate and postdoctoral work, studies synaptic mechanisms of drug addiction and relapse.

Bates professor awarded half million dollar neuroscience grant

In July 2014, Professor Jason Castro received a highly competitive Maine INBRE Investigator Award, sponsored by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, to fund a five-year project to investigate the organization of neural circuits in the mammalian olfactory system. His work, which will use a combination of neuroinformatic, electrophysiological, and anatomical-tracing techniques, will refine research methodologies needed to analyze otherwise hidden substructure in brain regions implicated in psychiatric disorders.

The neuroscience major becomes even more interdisciplinary

We are delighted to report that the neuroscience major has some exciting new electives: Professor Jim Parakilas’ Music and the Mind seminar in the Music Department, Professor Sanford Freedman’s class Literary Imagination and Neuroscience in the English Department, Professor Bill Seeley’s classes Computational Modeling, Intelligence, and Intelligent Systems and Embodied Cognition and the Philosophy of Artificial Life in the Philosophy Department, and Professor Nancy Kleckner’s and Stephanie Richard’s jointly-taught Cellular Biochemistry course in the Biology Department.

Neuroscience team finds that salivary oxytocin level predicts emotional intelligence

Laura Max ’13 of Garrett Park, Maryland publishes research in the June 2014 volume of the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology with co-author Professor Nancy Koven. Their work confirms an association between basal oxytocin level and certain emotional intelligence skills, namely the abilities to recognize emotions in others and to channel emotions to enhance one’s social proficiency.

Student and faculty publish research on a novel Parkinson’s disease treatment approach

The June 2014 issue of the journal Psychopharmacology features research by Caroline Neville ’12 of Center Conway, New Hampshire and Professor John Kelsey. Their report finds that the antibiotic, ceftriaxone, which works by facilitating glutamate removal from the synapse, is an effective alternative to more standard dopaminergic agonists in an animal model of Parkinson’s disease.

Bates awards two neuroscience students grants for summer 2014 research

Will Bronson ’15 of Durham, Connecticut received a STEM Student Research Grant to work with Professor Jason Castro at Bates investigating new imaging techniques for whole-brain analysis of deep brain structures in mice. Ramya Ghantasala ’15 of Westford, Massachusetts received a Bates Summer Research Fellowship to study the cognitive outcomes of sepsis in animals, particularly the long-term effects of brain inflammation on memory and cognitive flexibility. She is conducting her summer research at the University of Michigan under the supervision of Dr. Benjamin Singer.

Research on brain-derived neurotrophin factor in human urine makes a big splash

Larisa Collins ’13 of Greenbrae, California has published two papers this year with Professor Nancy Koven, validating urinary BDNF as a peripheral biomarker of human functioning. In one paper, published in the journal Neuroscience Letters in January 2014, Collins and Koven find that urinary BDNF concentration is associated with aerobic fitness in healthy individuals. In a second paper, published in the journal Neuropsychobiology in June 2014, the team used neuropsychological assessment to identify cognitive flexibility as the specific factor of executive functioning associated with in vivo BDNF levels.

Twelve neuroscience students inducted to 2014 Sigma Xi Scientific Honors Society

In May 2014, twelve neuroscience seniors were inducted into Sigma Xi, an international scientific honors society that recognizes past research achievements and potential for continued research contributions: Abby Alexander of Freedom, New Hampshire; Danny Birkhead of Amesbury, Massachusetts; Pete Dixon of Hamden, Connecticut; Destany Franklin of Seattle, Washington; Caleb Glassman of Radnor, Pennsylvania; Carly Hinkle or Arlington, Virginia; Taylor Kniffin of Stamford, Connecticut; Emmaleigh Loyer of Shelburne, Vermont; Jane Mayer of Bronxville, New York; Curt Rheingold of Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts; Jake Sandor of Montclair, New Jersey; and Emily White of Brookline, Massachusetts.

Five neuroscience seniors elected to the 2014 Bates Scholar-Athlete Society

Congratulations to Abby Alexander of Freedom, New Hampshire, Caleb Glassman of Radnor, Pennsylvania, Hope King of Greenwich, Connecticut, Taylor Kniffin of Stamford, Connecticut, and Emily White of Brookline, Massachusetts who were inducted into the Bates Scholar-Athlete Society in May 2014. The Society recognizes graduating seniors nominated by their coaches who have compiled a 3.5 grade point average or have received a special nomination from faculty and staff for distinguished academic achievement in their junior and senior years.

Neuroscience and philosophy professors propose an organism-centered account of olfaction

Professors Jason Castro of Psychology and Bill Seeley of Philosophy co-author an article in the April 2014 volume of the journal Frontiers in Psychology on the phenomenology of olfaction.  In their article, they argue that odors engender object-like representations in the brain that are best defined by their biological value to the organism rather than their physicochemical properties.

Neuroscience student presents electrophysiology research at national conference

With funding from a STEM Travel Grant, Abby Alexander ’14 of Freedom, New Hampshire attended the National Conference on Undergraduate Research in April 2014 in Lexington, Kentucky to present findings from her senior thesis. With her mentor, Professor Jason Castro, Alexander investigated the modulating role of the opioidergic system within the intrabulbar recurrent inhibitory circuit.

Bates debuts new course on grant writing

Beginning in Short Term 2014, Dr. Robert Strong, Lecturer in English and Graduate Fellowships Advisor, is offering an interdisciplinary course on grant writing in which students develop individual projects while mastering discipline-specific approaches to publication and the production of scholarship.

Neuroscience professor and colleagues characterize olfactory perceptual space

Dr. Jason Castro teams up with Dr. Arvind Ramanathan of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee and Dr. Chakra Chennubhotla of the University of Pittsburgh to publish in the September 2013 issue of PLoS ONE. Their work, which applies non-negative matrix factorization as a statistical approach toodor profiling data, maps a 10-dimensional descriptor space forhuman odor perception.

Neuroscience student tag team studies the neurocognitive impact of vitamin D in multiple sclerosis

Together with thesis advisor, Professor Nancy Koven, and collaborating neurologist, Mitchell Ross, Meg Cadden ’11 of Reading, Massachusetts and Sangita Murali ’12 of South Dartmouth, Massachusetts publish in the journal Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology in September 2013.Their research finds that higher serum vitamin D level is associated with improved nonverbal long-term memory in patients with the relapsing-remitting form of multiple sclerosis.

Neuroscience student receives travel award to learn optogenetic research

Jake Sandor ’14 of Montclair, New Jersey receives a STEM Travel Grant to visit researchers in September 2013 at the University of Colorado to learn optogenetic techniques to supplement his senior thesis research with Professor Jason Castro.

Four neuroscience students receive 2013 summer research funding

With funding from the IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE), Destany Franklin ’14 of Seattle, Washington and Caleb Glassman ’14 of Radnor, Pennsylvania are assisting Professor Nancy Kleckner on research into the signaling mechanisms governing snail feeding behavior, using immunocytochemistry and electrophysiology techniques. Jake Sandor ’14 of Montclair, New Jersey and Abby Alexander ’14 of Freedom, New Hampshire also received INBRE funding to support their summer research with Professor Jason Castro on the role of the opioid system in rodent social memory formation.

Eleven neuroscience students inducted to 2013 Sigma Xi Scientific Honors Society

In May 2013, eleven neuroscience seniors were inducted into Sigma Xi, an international scientific honors society that recognizes past research achievements and potential for continued research contributions: Olivia Coleman of Rockville, Maryland; Larisa Collins of Greenbrae, California; Lauren Demers of Bethesda, Maryland; Samantha Forrest of Bozeman, Montana; Lindsey Gwynne of Boston, Massachusetts; Corey Hill of Keene, New Hampshire; Samantha Landino of Brownsville, Vermont; Laura Max of Garrett Park, Maryland; Olivia Norrmén-Smith of Upper Montclair New Jersey; Phi Nguyen of Methuen, Massachusetts; and Torben Noto of San Diego, California.

Neuroscience student presents genomic analysis data at national conference

With funding from a STEM Travel Grant, Torben Noto ’13 of San Diego, California presents his bioinformatics research in April 2013 at the National Conference for Undergraduate Research in Lacrosse, Wisconsin. Under the mentorship of Professor Jason Castro, Noto used a genomic-scale atlas of gene expression to identify sources of molecular heterogeneity in the anterior and posterior regions of the mouse accessory olfactory bulb.

Research uses neuropsychological assessment to determine the cognitive boundaries of new type of eating disorder

Rina Senbonmatsu ’12 of Tokyo, Japan and Professor Nancy Koven share the results of their neuropsychological investigation of orthorexia nervosa, an eating disorder with characteristics of both anorexia nervosa and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Their article appears in the April 2013 issue of the Open Journal of Psychiatry.

Neuroscience student awarded prestigious Watson Fellowship to conduct international research on stroke

Olivia Norrmén-Smith ’13 of Upper Montclair, New Jersey receives $25,000 in funding from the Watson Foundation for a year-long investigation into the sociocultural influences on lay and medical conceptualizations of stroke. Her research, which takes her to Morocco, Madagascar, and Cambodia in 2013-2014 to interact with stroke patients and care providers, involves both quantitative and qualitative approaches.

Bates researchers link nicotine exposure to impulsivity

Anzela Niraula ’11 of Nepal and Professor John Kelsey publish their research in the January 2013 issue of the journal Psychopharmacology. Using a reward-based delay discounting paradigm in rodents, Niraula and Kelsey demonstrate that acute and sub-chronic nicotine exposure helps develop and maintain an addiction by increasing impulsivity.