Pitt News Release: June 29, 2015
Maybe it's not the dopamine rush
Contemporary scientific theory suggests that teenagers are risk takers because they crave the feel-good rush of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain's reward and pleasure centers. That theory, however, has been based on a long line of studies on the adult brain.
The University of Pittsburgh's Dr. Bita Moghaddam and her research group have taken a look at the teen brain - the teen rat's brain, specifically - and found that scientists' presumptions may be off base.
"The adolescent brain doesn't work the way we think it does," she says. "we have a set of predictions about it that keep proving to be wrong, that they seek pleasure because dopamine is more active. This study shows that may not be the case." Read More ......
Marlene Cohen receives 2015 McKnight Scholar Award
Congratulations to Marlene Cohen, a recipient of the 2015 McKnight Scholar Award. The Award is granted to young scientists in the early stages of establishing their own independent laboratories and research careers and who have demonstrated a commitment to neuroscience. The Endowment Fund seeks to support innovative research designed to bring science closer to the day when diseases of the brain can be accurately diagnosed, prevented, and treated. The McKnight Scholars will each receive $75,000 per year for three years.
Congratulations to Dr. Anthony A. Grace!
The William K. Warren Research Award is given every 2 years to a senior investigator, who has made outstanding contributions to our understanding of schizophrenia.
At the 2015 meeting of the International Congress of Schizophrenia Research,
Dr. Anthony A. Grace was named the recipient of the award for 2015.
Marlene Cohen receives 2015 University of Pittsburgh Chancellor’s Distinguished Research Award
Patrick Gallagher, University of Pittsburgh Chancellor awarded a dozen Pitt faculty members with 2015 chancellor’s awards for research, teaching and service. In the junior scholar category, Marlene Cohen, assistant professor in the Department of Neuroscience in the Dietrich school was awarded $2,000 cash prize and a $3,000 grant in support of her research. Chancellor Gallagher recognized Marlene's research as “scientifically rigorous, highly creative and novel” work that is making a substantial impact on the field of sensory processing and perception. “Not only have you been extremely successful in obtaining funding for your research, but you have also amply demonstrated that you are an independent, creative and talented scientist who is emerging as one of the true leaders in your field,” he wrote. Read More...
Congratulations to Dr. Yan Dong!
Dr. Dong's research is featured in the Winter 2015 issue of the PITT magazine. According to the article, Dong and his research team "sought to explain the brain mechanisms of cocaine craving. The findings suggest that it may be possible to clinically manipulate certain brain neurocircuits to weaken post-withdrawal cocaine relapse."
Hot Metal Bridge Post-Baccalaureate Program adds Neuroscience as an option. Application deadline is April 30, 2014.
Please visit the School of Arts and Sciences' Diversity Initiatives HMB program page for more information.
Congratulations to Dr. Anthony Grace!
Dr. Anthony A. Grace, has been named the 2013 winner of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP) Julius Axelrod Mentorship Award. This award is presented for outstanding contributions to Neuropsychopharmacology by mentoring young scientists. Dr. Grace was presented with the award during the President's Plenary session at the Annual Meeting in Hollywood Florida. Congratulations Tony!
Congratulations to Dr. Bill Yates!
We are delighted to announce that Dr. Bill Yates, Professor of Otolaryngology and Neuroscience has been appointed as Editor of Journal of Neurophysiology, effective July 2014.
Matt Schaff Receives Goldwater Scholarship!
As reported in the Pitt Chronicle, April 2, 2012, Matthew A. B. Schaff, a junior majoring in neuroscience and economics, is one of three University of Pittsburgh Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences' students to be named a 2012 Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship winner for his exceptional independent research in the natural sciences. The students were nominated for the scholarships through the auspices of Pitt’s University Honors College.
Patricia White writes, "Schaff, a Pitt Honors Scholar from Strafford, Pa., is an undergraduate researcher in Pitt’s Neuropsychopharmacology of Nicotine Addiction Laboratory. He studies the reinforcement-enhancing effects of nicotine on rats through operant conditioning techniques under the direction of Alan Sved, a professor and chair in Pitt’s Department of Neuroscience, and Eric Donny, a professor in Pitt’s Department of Psychology.
Schaff also spent two summers conducting research at the University of Pennsylvania’s Neuropsychiatry Laboratory.
An intern/contractor at The Foundation for Biomedical Research in Washington, D.C., Schaff inaugurated the “Research Outreach Initiative,” which encourages scientists to perform K-12 outreach. He is a service volunteer in the Pitt Department of Biological Sciences and Clinical and Translational Science Institute’s Mobile Science Lab Program. Schaff’s honors include the Center for Neuroscience Summer Undergraduate Fellowship and the University Honors College Fall Research Fellowship. He serves as president of the Pitt Neuroscience Club.
Schaff plans to earn a PhD in neuroscience and to conduct research on the causes of drug abuse, directing the focus of his future research toward understanding the way the brain processes and responds to rewarding stimuli, particularly commonly abused stimulants such as nicotine and cocaine. He hopes to teach at the university level".
Pittsburgh Regional Science and Engineering Fair, March 30-31, 2012
Department of Neuroscience sponsored awardees for the 73rd Pittsburgh Regional Science and Engineering Fair which took place at Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA are David Shipe and Julia Reese.
Julia Reese, a junior from Freeport Senior High School in Freeport, PA, presented a project entitled, "Zebrafish Embryo Use to Test Rx Drugs" in which she conducted experiments to determine if zebrafish embryos can successfully identify drugs with potential human cardiotoxicity. The results indicated that zebrafish embryos were able to identify the human cardiovascular effects of the majority of the drugs, showing that they can possibly be used tas models for human drug research.
David Shipe, a sophomore from Freeport Senior High School, presented a project entitled "Excessive Breeding Affect Cognitive Ability of Mice?" in which he conducted experiments to determine and compare the cognitive ability of inbred, outbred and pet store mice.
Pitt News Release: January 18, 2012
As published by Drs. Bita Moghaddam and David Sturman in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science research "compared the brain activity of adolescents and adults in rats involved in a task in which they anticipated a reward". The study found "that not only is reward expectancy processed differently in an adolescent brain, but also it can affect brain regions directly responsible for decision-making and action selection".
As reported in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette today Dr. Edward Stricker describes family influences on his life, his passion for education, his academic and research years and his plans to address the University community of the state of the Honors College.
Neuroscience in the News
MIT Technology Review - April 8
Obama calls for $100 million to develop new technologies to understand the brain.
Popular Science - April 8
A few new studies, including one meta-analysis, suggest brain games don't make you any better at anything but playing brain games.
The Washington Post - April 8
Exercising body and brain may improve memory and thinking in older people.
Psych Central - April 6
As much as a decade before most schizophrenia patients begin showing symptoms, brain scans may be able to detect signs of the disease.
Scientific American - April 4
A seven-million-year-old skull found in the Djurab Desert in Chad may indeed represent the earliest known member of the human family.