Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

Katrina Manaloto Rose Hills

Reversal Learning Mechanisms in Adolescent Mouse Models of ASD

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by social impairments and repetitive, restricted behaviors. ASD is also associated with changes in learning. Currently, we model mechanisms underlying ASD by studying mice with ASD risk genes, enabling further research into neural circuits of learning in ASD. Previously, the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (dmPFC) was identified as a brain learning and cognitive flexibility center. Reversal learning paradigms, where individuals first learn to associate choices with certain outcomes before outcomes are switched, are also widely performed tests of cognitive flexibility. Ongoing research from Wilbrecht Lab images rodent neural activity in the dmPFC during a learning task to elucidate how frontal circuits develop and contribute to adolescent learning. However, imaging of dmPFC cortical neurons during reversal learning has not yet been performed in adolescent, ASD-model mice. My proposed research project aims to extend our understanding of the neural mechanisms behind adolescent, ASD learning flexibility by imaging the dmPFC during a reversal learning task.

Message To Sponsor

Thank you so much for your generous funding of my research project! I'm excited to contribute to the existing research on the neural mechanisms that underlie behaviors of Autism Spectrum Disorder. I am especially grateful to have your support since I am a proud Filipina woman who hopes to break into academia, a field in which Filipinos and other Southeast Asians are consistently underrepresented. Thank you again for your generosity and encouragement.
Major: Molecular and Cell Biology, Rhetoric
Mentor: Linda Wilbrecht
Sponsor: SURF Rose Hills
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