Dr. Doris Bitler Davis works with undergraduate and graduate students on issues related to animal learning and cognition. One area of focus involves understanding animal communication systems and their evolutionary relationship to human language. Subjects include domesticated species such as goats (Capra hircus), chickens (Gallus gallus domesticus), and dogs (Canis lupus familiaris). A related interest is in more clearly identifying, describing, and mitigating cognitive dysfunction syndrome in companion animals. Other lines of research include: 1) the pedagogy of psychology (the empirical evaluation of methods for improving student learning and retention), 2) food choices and eating behavior in humans and animals, and 3) anomalistic psychology (the study of extraordinary beliefs, behaviors, and experiences).
Dr. Brielmaier Sontag is able to serve as an MA thesis or dissertation committee member for CBN students whose research has a behavioral neuroscience focus. She is also involved with research on online teaching and learning. Current studies are investigating the role of course design in student motivation and performance, and student engagement in an online vs. face-to-face physiological psychology course.
Dr. Flinn’s research focuses on the role of metals in both behavior and physiology. Her research has emphasized the roles of zinc, copper and iron in learning and memory and also in macular degeneration. Her research currently focuses on two specific aspects of metals in behavior, Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and the extinction of learned fears. Her lab is developing genetically modified mice which model late onset Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of the disease. In Alzheimer’s mice, increased zinc causes an impairment in memory, which may be due to decreased copper. Current studies are examining memory, affiliative behaviors and circadian rhythms and the role of inflammation and zinc transporters in AD mice. The work on extinction has shown that increased levels of zinc, which may act through reducing copper levels, lead to an inability to extinguish a learned fear normally, a possible factor in PTSD.
My lab investigates the neural underpinnings of the action monitoring system, a system that facilitates adaptive behavior by enabling evaluation of action outcomes, including errors. A current focus is on how error processing impacts sensory processing and behavioral performance. My research primarily utilizes electroencephalography (EEG). Event-related potentials (ERPs) and time-frequency (TF) analyses of rhythmic brain activity are used to provide complementary windows into the dynamic cortical activity underlying action monitoring.
My work examines two vital components of human cognition: social perception; and how we understand our physical world through the representation of time and space – roughly categorized, people and time/space. My goal is to uncover the neural mechanisms that underlie our understanding of our social and physical worlds using the tools of social and cognitive neuroscience, including functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), source-localized electroencephalography (EEG), and more recently, repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS).
How does the brain perceive time and space? Philosophers may debate the nature of each, but our lab aims to empirically study how the brain constructs these dimensions. Even more exciting: we are not just interested in time and space alone, but what they are used for. For time, a major use of interest is the perception of rhythm and music. For space, we are interested in how this dimension is used for navigation and processing value.