What type of neuroscience research do you do and what got you interested in this research?
As a graduate student, I examine how threat probability is encoded in the brain and what happens to fear expression when this encoding is abnormal or disrupted. I became interested in this line of work because I’ve always wanted to approach neuroscience from an abnormal psychology perspective. Ultimately, I hope my work can lead us toward a better understanding of the neural basis of disordered fear observed in post-traumatic stress disorder.
What challenges did you encounter along the way, and how did you overcome these challenges?
Setting up a new lab was the biggest challenge I’ve encountered so far. I quickly learned that establishing new techniques always takes longer than you think! We spent a great deal of time grounding our electrophysiology rigs to enable recording during foot shock-induced noise artifacts. That said, it was a super rewarding experience and it’s outstanding to see everything up and running in the McDannald lab now.
What new technique do you think will have the greatest impact on neuroscience research and how do you plan to apply this to your research?
I’m really excited to see how large-scale, simultaneous recording in multiple brain regions expands. A wealth of information will be at our fingertips once we add this to our repertoire. The trick is, finding the right technique for a particular research question! Strategic use of single-unit recording, optogenetics and Cre-driver rodent lines are making incredible new discoveries possible each day.
Lab Website: http://mcdannaldlab.org/home