HRP SU23-35: Research Opportunity with Dr. Timothy Spellman

Project Mentor

Dr. Timothy Spellman
Department of Neuroscience

Undergraduate Research Opportunity Description

Project Description The prefrontal cortex is an area of the brain that is critically involved in processing attention, short-term memory, and rule learning. This project seeks to clarify the involvement of specific neurotransmitters, including acetylcholine and dopamine, in allowing the cells of the prefrontal cortex focus attention on external cues, and to shift that focus when necessary. These are cognitive processes that are disrupted in a wide range of psychiatric diseases, which we are seeking to better understand. Students would be involved in carrying out behavioral neuroscience experiments, which will entail testing mice on tasks involving attention, and also using several different cutting-edge techniques for monitoring and manipulating the activity of specific cell types in the prefrontal cortex of the mice undergoing these tests.
Project Direction This project is part of a larger study that aims to identify the special roles played by various types of neurons in the prefrontal cortex in supporting attention and attention shifting. Further work in the following academic year would be aimed at analyzing data gathered in the summer, with the goal of eventual inclusion in a research paper.
Mentorship and Supervision Training will be hands-on. Progress and feedback will both be covered through weekly in-person meetings.
Student Qualifications A willingness to work hands-on with lab mice, including handling and training on behavioral tasks and performing basic surgical procedures and processing post-mortem tissue, is a prerequisite. Coursework in biology/neurobiology is also greatly helpful, and engineering background is also a plus.
Summer Schedule Options Research Dates: May 22 to July 28, 2023
Schedule: While a full-time (40 hr/wk) commitment is necessary, the detailed schedule is flexible and may vary depending on how busy a particular stage of the experiment is.
Project Continuation Fall 2023, Spring 2024
Academic Year Time Commitment 9 hours/week
Possible Thesis Project Yes


Submit an online application for this research opportunity at The application deadline is Monday, January 30, 2023.

This application requires a cover letter, a resume or CV, science GPA, and a brief statement of career interests. References should be available upon request.