Apolonia Gardner

Apolonia  Gardner
Undergraduate Research and Innovation Scholar
Advisor: Ann Graybiel
Department: EECS
Areas of Research: Biological Engineering
Years: 2018-2019
Research Project Title:

Elucidating Connections Between Brain Activity and Behavior in Rodents

abstract:Striosomes and matrix neurons are the two major types of cells in the striatum and play a known role in weighing costs and benefits during decision-making. They also interface with the D1 and D2 dopamine pathways to control movement, but the precise relationship is not fully understood. My project combines techniques such as calcium imaging, optogenetics, and electrophysiology to more fully describe the striosomal circuit in normal versus disease states and to elucidate its interaction with the D1 and D2 pathways. This will enhance our understanding of a wide array of neurological disorders arising as consequences of striatal dysfunction (Huntington’s and Parkinson’s diseases, autism, OCD, addiction, etc.) and facilitate creation of prevention and treatment paradigms to address such disorders.

"Through SuperUROP, I want to gain experience in all aspects of the scientific process, from data collection and analysis to communication of results through presentations and papers. I want to use the skills I acquired from taking 9.40 and 9.66 (Introduction to Neural Computation and Computational Cognitive Science) to process imaging and electrophysiology data from mice I’ve helped train and perform surgeries on. I am excited to help demystify nature’s most powerful computer —the brain!"