Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

Katrina White L&S Sciences

The Role of Psychedelics in Associative Learning


Psychedelics have been used medicinally for thousands of years by Native Americans, but research into their clinical effects and mechanisms was prematurely halted in the 1960s. Exploration of the effects of psychedelics is long overdue. Recent studies have found that single doses of psychedelics can have positive, long-lasting effects, but very few studies examine psychedelic effects on behavior. My project aims to discover how psychedelics influence associative learning behavior. Associative learning involves learning the association between a cue and an outcome. I hypothesize that mice treated with psychedelics will become better at associative learning. To test this hypothesis, I will condition mice in an enriched environment with novel flooring and then condition them in a non-enriched environment with a different flooring. Both conditions will isolate the mouse; the enriched environment is like a moude playground, whereas the non-enriched environment is a boring empty cage. If mice have learned the association between the flooring and enrichment or non-enrichment, they should show preference for the enriched environment flooring over the non-enriched environment flooring, even in the absence of any enrichment.

Message To Sponsor

I want to give a big thank you to my donor. I greatly appreciate the amount I will learn from this experience. More than personal growth, I believe research into the effects and applications of psychedelics is imperative, and this project would not be possible without my donor.
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Major: Cognitive Science and Molecular and Cell Biology
Mentor: Andrea Gomez
Sponsor: Pergo Fund
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