Neuroscience Research

Neuroscience Research

There are several opportunities for students to gain research experience during their time at Loras.  Students majoring in Neuroscience are required to participate in research.  Neuroscience currently underway on campus is being conducted by Dr. Michael Jarcho and Dr. Sara Bagley.  

Dr. Jarcho has research interests in how psychosocial stressors can influence everything from an individual's emotional state, to their physiology, to their immune function.  He is currently working with students on two main projects.  The first project investigates how people respond to a simulated social rejection event.  In this project we are interested in how people respond, both emotionally and physiologically, to being excluded from a group.  The second project is using a mouse model to investigate how social isolation influences depression-like behavior, stress physiology, and inflammatory biology.  In this project female mice are isolated from their usual cagemates, and this isolation is predicted to act as a stressor.  In response to this stressor, female mice are expected to experience behavioral and physiological changes.  Importantly, these changes are expected to parallel those changes that depressed individuals suffer during bouts of depression.  By investigating the changes that occur following a stressful event, we hope to discover patterns that may be used in the prevention and treatment of patients suffering from major depressive disorder (MDD). 

Dr. Bagley has research interests in the physiology of emotions, especially stress, and how they can impact cognition. She is amazed by how the appraisal of a situation can alarm the body to change not just the physiology, but also cognitive functioning. For her dissertation, she investigated the relationships between learning strategies, memory retrieval, and stress. More specifically, she looked at learning strategies of varying relational degrees and how these strategies buffered the previously seen deficit in memory performance when stress was applied at retrieval. She also looked at the effects of stress on reconsolidation (the process of reactivating a memory and then re-storing the memory) and later memory performance.

Participation in research does not necessarily need to happen on campus, and students are encouraged to pursue opportunities elsewhere as well.  The National Science Foundation offers several summer research experiences for undergraduates at various colleges and universities throughout the country.  There are also research opportunities through the National Institutes of Health that offer unique research experiences to undergraduates.  In addition to the opportunities at NSF and NIH, the Neuroscience faculty are working to establish and develop relationships with researchers at other colleges and universities in order to facilitate Loras students' participation in research.  

For more information about Neuroscience research at Loras College, schedule your visit today!

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