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Alexandra McHale Awarded 2017 Trainee Professional Development Award

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Photo of Alexandra McHale

Join us in congratulating Ally for receiving this award from the Society for Neuroscience. The award will support travel to this year’s meeting in Washington, DC, and a special poster session for all trainees at the meeting. Ally will also benefit from admission to Professional Development Workshops, and presentation of her poster in the meeting at-large, Wednesday November 15.

Jenn Lin explores the Social Brain

Friday, July 21, 2017

Photo of Jenn Lin and the Fudge Lab

Jenn Lin and the Fudge Lab

On July 21, Jennifer Lin delivered results of her summer research: "What Monkeys Can Teach Us About the Social Brain". Jenn analyzed how combinations of cortical areas involved in social imitation, interoception, and affiliative behavior influence specific striatal regions, suggesting that social interactions have specific a cortico-striatal network. Jenn is a Swarthmore College senior. As an accepted student through the Medical School Early Assurance Program, she returns to URMC in August 2018 as a first-year Medical Student.

Keshov Sharma Presents Late-Breaking Data at Society for Biological Psychiatry in San Diego

Monday, May 22, 2017

Photo of Keshov Sharma in front of a scientific poster at a conference in San Diego

Keshov Sharma, a second-year student in the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP), presented work collected in part during his laboratory last summer at the SOBP Annual meeting in May. The study, “Dual Neural Connections between the Amygdala and the Ventromedial (BA25) and Dorsomedial (BA24) Prefrontal Cortex in the Macaque”, was inspired by recent data in rodents implicating separate subcircuits between amygdala and infralimbic cortex, and amygdala and the prelimbic cortex, in fear extinction and fear consolidation, respectively. To find a comparable bridge to human fear studies, we designed studies to examine this question in monkeys because of their relatively larger and more subdivided cortical architecture that parallels the human. Analyzing dual retrograde injections into proposed ‘homologues’ of these rodent cortical regions in monkeys, we found that cells projecting to these cortical regions were mostly intermixed in several specific amygdala subnuclei in primates. Moreover, a subpopulation of neurons projected to both prefrontal regions, indicating common neural modulation of these functionally dissociated areas. Thus, amygdala inputs to separable, functionally opposed cortical regions exist in close proximity to one another in specific parts of the amygdala, and some of these cells participate in both ‘subcircuits’. Understanding this organization may provide clues about how to ‘tip the balance’ between fear learning and fear extinction learning in higher species, including humans that suffer from illnesses characterized by aberrant fear learning.

University of Rochester Expo 2017: Chas and Ashley go all in!

Monday, April 24, 2017

photo of Ashley Bui presenting at the University of Rochester Expo 2017 photo of Charles Pfeifer presenting at the University of Rochester Expo 2017

Hard work and enthusiastic presentations by our undergraduates, Charles (Chas) Pfeifer and Ashley Bui, were on view at the annual University of Rochester Expo. Chas and Ashley’s abstracts were accepted earlier in the month, and on April 21, 2017, they presented to a packed crowd. Ashley’s poster was entitled: Projections from the Temporal Cortex to the Basal Nucleus of the Amygdala in the Macaque Create a Gradient of Visual Input. Chas put together a presentation entitled: Dual Neural Connections from Amygdala to the ventromedial (BA25) and dorsomedial (BA24,32) Prefrontal Cortex in the Macaque. Both of these students’ work was based on 2 semesters of Independent Study in our laboratory. Both plan on graduate school in the near future. Ashley will be at SUNY Binghamton in the Neuroscience program, and Chas is taking a research assistant position prior to choosing a program. Thanks to all faculty who attended and gave feedback to our students!

Study Shed New Light on Brain’s Decision-making Process

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Image of a floor map reading stop, look and listen

New research reveals the complex circuits involved in regulating the neurotransmitter dopamine in our brains. Traditionally thought to be limited to reward seeking, the new study shows that parts of the ‘emotional’ brain may also manipulate dopamine to help us pay attention and react to new information in the environment.

The study, which appears in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology, was led by Julie Fudge, M.D., with the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) Department of Neuroscience.

The research focuses on an area of the brain called the amygdala, which is known to be important for social and emotional development and behaviors. The amygdala receives sensory information – sight, sound, and smells – and processes it by combining it with information stored in our memories. It evaluates changes or new information to help determine whether it is worthy of our attention or if it can be ignored. The new study shows that one way the amygdala can accomplish this is by communicating with the brain’s dopamine producing cells.

Read More: Study Shed New Light on Brain’s Decision-making Process

Ashley Bui to present research in Tennessee

Friday, February 10, 2017

Ashley, a senior majoring in Brain and Cognitive Sciences and Psychology, will present data from her 2 semesters of Independent Study in the laboratory this spring. Her abstract was selected for the Proceedings of the 31th National Conference on Undergraduate Research, held this year at the University of Memphis School of Public Health in Memphis on April 6-7. Her poster is entitled: Projections from the Temporal Cortex to the Basal Nucleus of the Amygdala in the Macaque Create a Gradient of Visual Input.

Congratulations to all UR undergraduates selected to present at the meeting!

Join us in congratulating Giovanna Braganza!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Our former summer intern, Giovanna Braganza, recently won a Women’s Leadership Award granted from the Susan B. Anthony Center and the Rochester Women’s Leadership Committee. Giovanna collected data on thalamic inputs to the extended amygdala during her summer with our lab, and is planning a career in medicine with a focus on women’s health.

Read More: Join us in congratulating Giovanna Braganza!

Mother’s Touch May Extend to Brain Development

Thursday, January 5, 2017

child and momA new study sheds light on changes in the brain that may explain why young infants who are placed in an orphanage or foster care often struggle with social relationships later in life.

The findings, which were published in the journal Developmental Psychobiology, come from a team of researchers led by Julie Fudge, M.D., with the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) Department of Neuroscience.  The scientists revisited data from a study involving monkeys that took place more than a decade ago at the University of Pittsburgh and was designed to observe the behaviors of newborns that were separated from their biological mothers and raised by another group of females.  The original study noted that these monkeys differed in their social interactions – such as grooming, huddling together, and normal aggression – compared to those that were raised by their mothers.

Like humans, monkey’s brains are not fully developed at birth and the animals are dependent upon the nurturing of caregivers for many months early in life.  Fudge and her colleagues wanted to see if there could find an association between the absence of a primary caregiver and biological changes in the brain that could explain the lasting social impairment observed in the monkeys.

Read More: Mother’s Touch May Extend to Brain Development