Heidi Meyer Predoctoral Research Award

Heidi Meyer recently received a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award.  This award is part of a family of grants provided by the United States National Institutes of Health for training researchers in the behavioral sciences and health sciences. They are a highly selective and very prestigious source of funding for doctoral and postdoctoral trainees. This award will allow Heidi to pursue research related to the mechanisms underlying the development of inhibitory behavior in rats. In particular, the experiments to be carried out under this award will incorporate viral mediated gene delivery systems (Designer Receptors Exclusively Activated by Designer Drugs; DREADDs) as a mechanism for temporary modulation of targeted brain regions relevant to proactive inhibition. Additional experiments will also elucidate the behavioral factors that contribute to the delayed ability to withhold behavior observed during adolescence. Investigating the link between neurobiological and behavioral development may inform the identification and development of new treatments for addiction and neurodevelopmental disorders.

SOCIETY FOR SOCIAL NEUROSCIENCE INAUGURAL FELLOWS

The Society for Social Neuroscience is delighted to announce the inaugural class of S4SN Fellows. The Board of Directors selected 12 Fellows who have made an outstanding contribution to the field of social neurosciences over their careers. The 2015 class of S4SN Fellows are:

Human Models of social neuroscience

  • Antonio Damasio, University of Southern California
  • Todd F. Heatherton, Dartmouth College
  • John T. Cacioppo, The University of Chicago
  • Ralph Adolphs, California Institute of Technology
  • Jean Decety, The University of Chicago
  • Patricia K. Kuhl, University of Washington

Animal models of social neuroscience

  • Stephen J. Suomi, NIH/NICHD
  • Michael J. Meany, McGill University
  • Bruce S. McEwen, The Rockfeller University
  • C. Sue Carter, The Kinsey Institute & Indiana University
  • Larry J. Young, Emory University
  • Carmen Sandi, Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne

Dartmouth PBS PhD Graduate Holds New Endowed Chair in Marketing

Land O'Lakes, Inc., and the Land O'Lakes Foundation announced September 3 it will invest $25 million in University of Minnesota academics and Gopher Athletics. This is one of the largest single corporate commitments in the University's history and the largest commitment ever made collectively by Land O'Lakes, Inc. and the Land O'Lakes Foundation.

As part of the landmark gift, the organization pledges $2.5 million to establish the endowed Land O' Lakes Chair in Marketing, a position to be held by Professor of Excellence in Marketing Kathleen Vohs. In 2000, Kathleen Vohs earned her PhD while working in Todd Heatherton's Lab, Department of Psychology and Brain Sciences.

"Today's announcement underscores our commitment to educational excellence and further strengthens our investment in the pipeline of talent from the University of Minnesota," says Christopher Policinski, president and CEO of Land O'Lakes, Inc., and Carlson School of Management Board of Overseers member.

Alessandro Pizzo wins Neuroscience Fellowship

The Society for Neuroscience Professional Development Committee has selected Alessandro Pizzo as a Neuroscience Scholars Program (NSP) Fellow.  Alessandro is currently a graduate student in Professor David Bucci’s laboratory.  As an NSP Fellow, Alessandro joins 14 other graduate trainees from across the country who will participate in  career development and networking opportunities to promote their future success.  Fellows will be paired with a mentoring team consisting of a senior mentor, a peer mentor, and a seasoned neuroscientist to discuss  the fellow’s research, career plans, and overall experience.  As part of the program, each Fellow also receives two years of complimentary SfN membership and waived abstract submission fees as well as a travel award to attend the SfN annual meeting for two years.  Enrichment funds are also provide up to $1,500 to support allowed professional development activities for two years.  Funding for this program has been supported by  the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) for over 30 years.

NEW STUDY POINTS TO A BRAIN REGION KEY TO CONTEXTUAL MEMORIES

An important aspect of memory is the ability to recall the physical place, or context, in which an event occurred. For example, in recalling emotionally charged events such as the September 11 terror attacks or the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, we remember not only the event but also where we were when it happened. Indeed, in discussing such events with others, we often ask, “Where were you when … ?” Processing “where” information is also important for mundane events such as remembering where you parked your car.

Travis Todd Postdoctoral Fellowship Award

Dr. Travis Todd, a Postdoctoral Fellow in Professor David Bucci’s laboratory, has received a National Research Service Award from the National Institute of Mental Health.  Dr. Todd’s grant, entitled “Cortico-hippocampal Contributions to Context and Extinction Learning,” will focus on how a part of the brain known as the retrosplenial cortex (RSC) is involved in forming memories about fear-provoking stimuli.  Importantly, this work will also emphasize the neural substrates of fear extinction, an animal model of cue-exposure therapy in humans.  This research will provide a deeper understanding of cue-exposure therapy, a commonly employed therapy used to treat a variety of human disorders (e.g., post-traumatic stress disorder: PTSD, anxiety related disorders, phobias). Further, by investigating a brain region (the retrosplenial cortex) that is known to be compromised in human disorders such as schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease, the proposed experiments may inform clinical practice and treatments for these disorders.

Not Just a Pretty Face, But It Helps on Election Day

Female politicians’ success can be predicted by their facial features, especially in conservative states where women with more feminine faces tend to do better at the ballot box, a Dartmouth-led study finds.

The results suggest women’s electoral success requires a delicate balance between voters’ perception of traditional femininity and political competence. The study appeared in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science and included researchers from UCLA and the University of Delaware.

The researchers used software called MouseTracker that was developed by the study’s senior author Jon Freeman, an assistant professor and director of the Social Cognitive and Neural Sciences Lab at Dartmouth. MouseTracker measures computer mouse movements during psychological experiments, revealing how participants’ real-time hand movements may be partially pulled toward various alternatives and how their psychological response evolves over time.

“Brain Pathways for Adaptive Goal Seeking” grant award.

Smith laboratory was awarded a 3-year research grant from the Whitehall Foundation. The award is to fund a project called “Brain Pathways for Adaptive Goal Seeking”. The project will use electrical recordings and optogenetics technology to understand how the brain makes goals valuable, and how that value can shift depending on internal states like changes in appetite. 

Whitehall Award Description: The Whitehall Foundation is a not-for-profit corporation which is focused exclusively on assisting basic research in vertebrate (excluding clinical) and invertebrate neurobiology in the United States.  Investigations should specifically concern neural mechanisms involved in sensory, motor, and other complex functions of the whole organism as these relate to behavior. The overall goal should be to better understand behavioral output or brain mechanisms of behavior.

2014 Graduate Student Poster Awards

Poster Title: "Head direction cell activity in the dorsal striatum and medial precentral cortext requires intact anterodorsal thalamic nuclei." 

"Max L. Mehlman, congratulations on being one of the winners of the 2014 Graduate Student Poster awards! As you may know, every year we contact the winners of the graduate student poster event & competition to request their winning poster for our display of Dartmouth student research posters in Kresge Library. This gallery also includes winning posters from the Wetterhahn Symposium / Undergraduate Research Poster Competition, so overall it is a great representation of a broad spectrum of student research at Dartmouth."

From announcement by Jane Quigley, Head, Kresge Physical Sciences Library.

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